SAN DIEGO (AP) — The military's highest court agreed Monday to hear the appeal of a U.S. Marine convicted of murder in one of the most significant criminal cases against U.S. troops from the Iraq war.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ordered a review requested by Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III, who claimed in a petition that his constitutional rights were violated when he was held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for seven days during his interrogation, and that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus unlawfully influenced his case after his conviction.
Hutchins, 26, of Plymouth, Mass., led an eight-man squad accused of kidnapping retired Iraqi policeman Hashim Ibrahim Awad from his home in April 2006, marching him to a ditch and shooting him to death. The killing took place in Hamdania, a small village in Al Anbar province.
The six other Marines and a Navy corpsman in his squad served less than 18 months.
Hutchins has sought clemency and early release, saying he was deeply sorry for what happened and has suffered nightmares and anxiety because of the killing.
Those requests have been denied, Hutchins claimed in the appeal, because Mabus illegally interfered in the case and influenced officers under him to rule against release.
Mabus has said that the killing did not happen in the fog of battle, but was a carefully planned attack and cover-up.
Neither the secretary nor officials from his office could be reached for comment late Monday night, but Mabus' office has said previously he is precluded from commenting on Hutchins' case because it is under appeal.
The appeals court has also agreed to consider whether Hutchins' rights were violated when the he was interrogated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, whose investigators ended his 2006 interrogation when he invoked his right to an attorney, according to the document granting the review.