Marine's Iraq killings trial to go forward, military judge rules

March 27, 2010

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - A military judge on Friday refused to dismiss charges against a Marine who led a squad that killed 24 Iraqi men, women and children in the town of Haditha after a bomb killed a Marine. The judge, Lt. Col. David Jones, had ruled Tuesday it was possible that two generals who brought charges against Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich had been subject to what the military calls undue command influence. But Friday, Jones ruled that he saw no indication of actual influence on Gen. James Mattis or retired Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland. Both, he said, conducted an "unbiased assessment" of the case before sending charges. Mattis sent charges to a preliminary hearing in December 2006. Helland sent the case to a court martial a year later, after that hearing. In making his Tuesday ruling, Jones said the prosecution had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that no undue influence existed. In turning down the defense request Friday, the judge ruled that prosecutors had "overwhelmingly" met that burden. Wuterich's court-martial is set for Sept. 13 on a variety of charges, including manslaughter, aggravated assault, dereliction of duty, reckless endangerment and obstruction of justice. He remains on active duty.

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