SAN DIEGO (AP) — The U.S. Marine Corps released a sergeant Friday whose murder conviction was overturned in a major blow to the military's prosecution of Iraq war crimes.
Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III, of Plymouth, Mass., walked out of the brig at the Marine Corps Miramar Air Station in San Diego after having served more than half of his 11-year sentence.
"The emotions I am feeling right now are hard to describe," Hutchins said in a statement issued through his attorney. "I am overcome. This is all I ever wanted."
Once his release paperwork was processed, Hutchins was to be transported by Marine Corps officials to Camp Pendleton, where he would check in to his new unit at the base's headquarters, said Marine Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Joseph Kloppel.
Hutchins led an eight-man squad accused of kidnapping an Iraqi man from his home in April 2006, marching him to a ditch and shooting him to death in the village of Hamdania.
Hutchins has said he thought the man — who turned out to be a retired policeman — was an insurgent leader.
None of the other seven squad members served more than 18 months.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces overturned Hutchins' conviction on June 26, supporting his claims that his rights were violated when he was held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for seven days during his 2006 interrogation in Iraq.
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