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Military lawyers seek to reinstate conviction of Marine for Iraq killing

Published: Wed, October 13, 2010 @ 3:24 p.m.

SAN DIEGO — Lawyers for the Marine Corps argued in appeals court today that the conviction of a Camp Pendleton Marine for killing an Iraqi man should be reinstated.

The lawyers want the conviction of Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins reinstated for the 2006 execution-style killing of a retired Iraqi police officer in Hamandiya in Anbar province.

Hutchins was serving an 11-year sentence at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., when the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals in April overturned his conviction on grounds that he was denied a fair trial because one of his attorneys left the case on the eve of his court-martial.

The Marine Corps is appealing that decision to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. The Coast Guard and Air Force have submitted briefs backing the Marine Corps.

After the conviction was overturned, Hutchins was released from prison and assigned to Camp Pendleton. His rank was restored and he has been assigned to a base logistics office.

In all, seven Marines and a Navy corpsman, all with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, were either convicted or pleaded guilty in the killing. None is still in jail; as the squad leader, Hutchins received the longest sentence.

During court-martials, defendants said the killing was meant to warn Iraqis not attack Marines with sniper shots or roadside bombs.

No decision is expected from the appellate court for weeks, possibly months, lawyers said.

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