Charging a man for murder in this place is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500
We take time out from talking about the non-existent bad soldiers in Scott Beauchamps mind to talk about …bad soldiers:
A general at Camp Pendleton has cut short the sentences of two Marines imprisoned in the Hamdaniya murder case and might do the same for two others.
Pvts. Tyler Jackson and Jerry Shumate Jr. were released Monday by order of Lt. Gen. James Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. The base announced Mattis’ decision a day later.
Jackson and Shumate had been sentenced to 21 months in the brig as part of pretrial deals in which they pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice. They were demoted in rank from corporal to private.
In exchange, government officials dropped the charge of premeditated murder. A conviction on that count would have sent the defendants to prison for the rest of their lives, with no possibility of parole.
Before Mattis released them Monday, Jackson and Shumate were scheduled to leave the brig as early as December.
Mattis took into account various factors, including â€œtheir military experience, relative rank and position of authority and their specific involvementâ€ in the Hamdaniya case, according to a statement that Camp Pendleton issued yesterday.
Jackson, Shumate, five other Marines and a Navy corpsman kidnapped and killed a man in Hamdaniya, Iraq, on April 26, 2006. They snatched the victim from his bed, took him to a roadside hole, bound him and killed him with a barrage of bullets.
Afterward, the squad tried to disguise the killing as a firefight between U.S. troops and an insurgent trying to plant a bomb.
The defendants said they partly wanted to send a message that insurgents and their supporters in Hamdaniya would pay a dear price. They had become frustrated after repeatedly arresting a suspect and turning him over to Iraqi authorities, only to see him released every time.
Five of the defendants finalized plea agreements with the government, receiving prison terms of one to eight years. Four of them â€“ Jackson, Shumate, Pvt. John Jodka III and Hospitalman Melson Bacos â€“ had left prison as of yesterday. Jodka was a private first class and Bacos was a petty officer third class before their demotions.
The remaining Hamdaniya defendants went through courts-martial.
Two of them â€“ Cpls. Trent Thomas and Marshall Magincalda â€“ were demoted to the rank of private and released from the brig at the end of their trials. Each had spent about 450 days in prison by then.
That leaves two Hamdaniya defendants still behind bars: Pvts. Robert Pennington and Lawrence Hutchins III. Before the Marine Corps demoted them, Pennington was a corporal and Hutchins was a sergeant.
Pennington is serving an eight-year sentence and Hutchins, who oversaw the Hamdaniya abduction and killing, was sentenced to 15 years last week.
Mattis is considering whether to cut short the prison terms for Pennington and Hutchins, Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Sean Gibson said yesterday.
Those defendants’ attorneys and family members are asking Mattis to reduce the sentences.
Just to be clear: the soldiers were frustrated so they took an innocent man out of his bed, tied him up, stuck him in a hole… and executed him, shooting him four times in the face.
I guess when they say that “freedom is on the march” in Iraq, the ‘freedom’ they are talking about is for the eight soldiers who took part in murdering a man. The ‘march’ is the short walk from a bed to a roadside grave.