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Court rules Camp Pendleton Marine should stand trial for Iraq killings

Photo: Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich. Credit: Associated Press A military appeals court Thursday rejected a request that could further delay the court martial of a Marine from Camp Pendleton accused in the killing of 24 Iraqis in Haditha in 2005.

"Put simply, it is time to place this matter before a trial court for a verdict," said a decision handed down by the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals in Washington, D.C.

The court rejected a request filed on behalf of Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich that it order one of his former military defense attorneys, now in private practice in Texas, to rejoin the defense team.

Wuterich's rights were not violated when a trial judge at Camp Pendleton allowed the attorney to leave the case, the court ruled. Wuterich "still enjoys the benefits of numerous other defense counsel, some of whom have been serving him for years," the opinion said.

Wuterich was the squad leader when Marines swept through three houses in Haditha after a roadside bomb had killed one Marine and injured two others. Twenty-four Iraqis, including three women and seven children, were killed by the Marines.

Of eight Marines charged in the incident, only Wuterich has yet to have his case resolved. Six Marines had the charges dismissed, and one was found not guilty. Wuterich remains on duty at Camp Pendleton.

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--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich. Credit: Associated Press

 
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