Clemency denied, Marine sergeant ordered back to prison in killing of Iraqi man in 2006
A Marine at Camp Pendleton has been ordered back to prison -- possibly as early as Wednesday -- for the killing of an unarmed Iraqi man in 2006.
Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins was freed in April from the prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, while appeals courts considered whether he was denied a fair trial at Camp Pendleton.
Hutchins had served four years of an 11-year sentence after being convicted as the ringleader of a plot to kidnap and murder a retired Iraqi police officer in Hamandiya, west of Baghdad.
But those appeals proved unsuccessful. Hutchins' attorneys have filed another appeal, but Hutchins was ordered back to prison while that appeal is considered.
A last-minute request for clemency was rejected Tuesday, without comment, by Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton.
Hutchins is set to surrender to authorities at Camp Pendleton and be sent to the brig before being transferred to Fort Leavenworth.
Since April, Hutchins has been assigned as a rifle-range instructor at Camp Pendleton. He has reconciled with his wife, and the couple is expecting their second child, according to Hutchins' attorney Babu Kaza.
At issue in the appeals is whether Hutchins' right to a fair trial was damaged when one of his trial attorneys was allowed to leave the case on the eve of the court martial.
Seven enlisted Marines and one Navy corpsman were convicted in the Hamandiya killing. As the squad leader, Hutchins received the longest sentence. All of the others are now freed; none served more than 18 months.
The plan to kill an Iraqi was developed as a warning to other Iraqis not to attack Marines with sniper shots or buried roadside bombs. In the months after the killing, attacks on Marines in the region dropped.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins. Credit: Associated Press