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IRAQ: Marine mom pleads with president for pardons

December 14, 2008 | 10:08 am

Smhomecoming1 The mother of a Marine convicted in the killing of an unarmed Iraqi man has written an impassioned letter to President Bush seeking a pardon for her son and six other Marines and a Navy corpsman also convicted in the case.

In her letter, Deanna Pennington asks Bush to lift the convictions and to free Lawrence Hutchins from prison. Hutchins is serving an 11-year sentence at Ft. Leavenworth.

The others served less than two years in the brig at Camp Pendleton and are now free but with the stigma of felony convictions.

The case involved the dragging of a man suspected of insurgent ties from his home in Hamandiya in April 2006 and executing him.

The Marines insist, as Pennington's letter indicates, that they were forced into action to stop the planting of roadside bombs that were killing their colleagues.

Pennington's letter to the president, in part, reads:

You sent our boys to protect your girls. They were successful. Your daughters are still alive. They protected your mom and wife, too. Your family lives.

Many of the boys' friends do not. My son watched his best friend, Erick, carried out of a Fallujah courtyard in a poncho because there wasn't enough left of his body for a stretcher. This boy turned 21 on Nov. 9, 2004, the day before his gruesome death in the midst of a bloody battle that you commanded.

He was my son's roommate and best friend and called me, 'Mom.' I was proud of him and proud of that title. He was the first of 9 friends that Rob lost during his 2nd tour, but two times in hell wasn't enough. You sent him back for a 3rd tour.

On that tour, you sent him to do a mission-less job, taking censuses and looking for bad guys. More like sending him on a daily suicide mission as their area of operations required them to travel the same IED-pitted road every day where they were sitting ducks. It was like you painted a target on their backs.

We know they did what they had to do to come back home alive.... Instead of being judged for their actions, they were immediately thrown in shackles and thrown in jail so that America could show the rest of the world that we knew how to be just. They didn't have a chance at justice. It was over before they knew what happened.

I ask you as a parent to consider our sons' lives and give them an opportunity to heal and put themselves back together.... Give them back their freedom.

— Tony Perry, San Diego

Photo: Deanna Pennington and son Robert. Credit: www.defendrob.com

P.S. Get news from the Middle East in your mailbox every day. The Los Angeles Times distributes a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for "L.A. Times updates" and then clicking on the "World: Mideast" box.

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