Skip to comments.SSgt Wuterich Tells His Story in Court Today (Last Haditha Marine-Trial-Day Eleven)
Posted on 01/20/2012 9:00:14 PM PST by smoothsailing
Neal Puckett and Haytham Faraj
January 20, 2012
Scott Pelley of CBS 60 Minutes, asked just as direct and hard-hitting questions as any government prosecutor in a 2006 interview of SSgt Wuterich. Today in court the prosecution played nearly 3 hours of outtakes where Pelley attempted to get Wuterich to admit his Marines went on a rampage in Haditha Iraq.
The prosecution team hoped to show that Wuterich admitted to shooting 5 military aged men and made irresponsible decisions to declare a house hostile and then prove he did it without clear understanding of the rules of engagement. Instead, those in the court room watched the last Marine take responsibility, correctly define the rules of engagement in force in 2005 and all specific training for the squad as well as identify the truth of what happened that day.
SSgt Wuterich identified that he used 4 main indicators to determine that the men who drove up simultaneously with the IED explosion could have been insurgents. He further explained the incoming small arms fire on the smoldering remains of the 4th Humvee as emanating from a house south of the explosion site. With careful detailed descriptions, Wuterich told Scott Pelley how he positively identified the house, which may have harbored insurgents and how his squad cleared that house and a second one right behind it.
In the entire 3 hours, Wuterich never once blamed the Marine Corps, his squad, his commanders or the intelligence briefs given to his squad that day. He calmly explained combat and the results of engagements. Throughout it all, Wuterich took responsibility as the senior person in the squad. He came across as truthful, forthright and humane. His testimony was in stark contrast to Sgt Mendoza. Mendoza gave rambling, contradictory testimony and at times admitted to lying to investigators. Nevertheless, Sgt Mendoza has been awarded a combat action ribbon and been promoted three times since the events at Haditha. SSgt Wuterich has yet to be awarded his combat action ribbon for the same day in combat.
LCPL Tatum, in his statement to NCIS agent Marshall, March 18, 2006, refers to
“the fourth HMMWV (highback) had LCPL TERRAZAS as the driver, LCPL CROSSON as the A-Driver, and LCPL Guzman as the gunner.”
Thanks to the magic of the Internet, the photo has been corrected (thanks again Lancey!).
I found one source (the one that smooth cites) that has Guzman as a LCpl and two that had him as a PFC. So I went with PFC.
Ha! Sometimes it’s as good as it gets.
I meant the photo you posted on FR is now correct on FR, in case that wasn’t clear!
Yes, I noticed that. Good work.
Big developments, story soon.
The general court martial of SSgt Frank D. Wuterich ended Monday morning with a plea deal.
Military Judge Lt. Col. David Jones told the court that the 31 year old father of 3 has agreed to accept a prosecution negotiated agreement to a guilty plea of negligent dereliction of duty.
I’m saddened by it, but I’m not in his shoes.
I wonder which area Wuterich is accepting that he negligently did not do his duty: white car, houses, rooms, all of it, some of it???
I hope it’s to something that carries no penalty.
I would have let my attorneys present their case.
I’m saddened also but as you say, we’re not in his shoes. I fully support his decision and hope for a just sentence with no confinement.
According to NC Times:
“Negligent dereliction of duty is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 90 days in custody and a reduction or forfeiture of pay. It was not immediately known when a sentencing decision would be announced.”
No way will I second guess this decision by Frank Wuterich. More than anything I am disappointed in the scumbag Pentagon for continuing to pursue this disgraceful prosecution for 6 years. It will be interesting to see the sentencing. I have to go puke now.
If 90 days is the maximum, I’m sure that will be waived after living this for 6 years. It is the end of his Marine career, but he probably wouldn’t have stayed anyway. It already was over.
It cost him his marriage and 6 years of his life.
Now he can be with his kids.
What do you think....the white car? It has to be something that could be viewed as a misdemeanor in retrospect. Since he had reasonable warning of a white car he acted, but should have awaited a better PID? (I don’t buy that, I’m just guessing.)
I think all punishment should be waived for what he and his family has gone through. I believe he’s already stated he’ll not stay in the Marine Corps.
I’ve no idea on what his plea pertains to but believe one of the charges was strictly dereliction of duty. I don’t see how it could be attached to any of the manslaughter charges because they wouldn’t have been a misdemeanor, I don’t believe.
Red cautioned that the charges might have changed since the original specifications.
Charge I: Three specifications of a violation of the UCMJ, Article 92--Dereliction of Duty
Original specifications under this charge:
Specification 1: was derelict in the performance of duty by willfully failing to achieve Positive Identification (PID) of targets by engaging one or more unknown persons located near a white car with a loaded M16A4 service rifle.
Specification 2: was derelict in the performance of duty by willfully failing to ensure that the Marines under his charge obeyed the Rules of Engagement by ordering the Marines under his charge to shoot first ask questions later.
Specification 3: was derelict in the performance of duty by willfully failing to achieve Positive Identification (PID) of a person believed to be Yunis Salim Rasif.
It strikes me that agreeing to the white car dereliction is mitigated in the future by the judge at last allowing the intel about the white car to be admitted.
Can you appeal even a deal later on if more intel becomes available?
Thanks, xzins. I just don’t know on this or the possibility of appeal.
Hopefully we’ll find out soon, maybe a legal type will post or Nat will have something in his piece.
Thanks, Girl. Julie Watson/AP didn’t even know the correct name of defense co-counsel.
From the San Fran Gate: link
In a hearing to determine if the facts of the plea were accurate and that he agreed, Wuterich acknowledged he was negligent in his duties because he told his squad to shoot first and ask questions later, or words to that effect.
"Honestly, I probably should have said nothing," Wuterich told the judge, Lt. Col. David Jones. "I think we all understood what we were doing so I probably just should have said nothing."
Later he added: "I shouldn't have done that and it resulted in tragic events, sir."
My memory is that those words of similar ones were in the TV interview with Pelley. He probably didn't trust the jury to go beyond the simple question of "did he or did he not say those words?"
Maybe he was watching jury faces.
Yes, that has to be it.
The news reports on the web are all over the place with this, and DEFEND OUR MARINES is the only source I'm interested in.
Hanging in here waiting with you. Prayers continue.
Let me take this moment to salute you all for exhibiting a level of steadfastness in support of a servicemember as I have ever seen. God bless you.
I think this news is worthy of Haditha list ping. Do you guys agree?
I realize we may be waiting for the preferred article, but given the significance of events, we could inline the ping here to inform the uninformed during the interim.
*sigh*...God Bless him!!!
Red has the lead on this.
The definitive story will be Nat Helms’ update.
We’ll ping the list once that is posted.
Patience, FRiend. :)
NO COVER-UP, NO MURDER
PLEADS GUILTY TO ONE COUNT OF NEGLIGENT DERELICTION OF DUTY
The credit goes to RedRover.
Thank you for posting that, Lancey.
I must say it is sad to see SSgt Wuterich plead like this. I don’t second guess his decision at all. He did what he thought was best for his family.
It was not the words he used that caused all the deaths....the prosecution just had to have something to show for their ridiculous witchhunt.
I wonder what these guys (the prosecutors) will see in the mirror tomorrow morning. Maybe they feel they “got something” for all the years of effort, the man-hours, the threats, the million(s) that were likely spent to get this “admission” of guilt.....One sentence uttered by SSgt Wuterich?????
That’s it????? I question a system that thinks this is military justice.
The Gateway Pundit has a great Headline!
Thanks for that smooth. :-)
SHAME ON JOHN MURTHA
The former Democratic representive smeared innocent men serving their country.
There was no murder in cold blood.
Love that graphic of yours, it’s so appropriate.
I fully support this decision. Even though I would have personally fought to the bitter end. And on that I am talking personal experience.
This Marine can stand tall.
As far as I can see, the only dereliction was in not stomping a mudhole in the a$$es of several, various, and assorted reporters, investigators, generals, and politicians. Especially that fat bastard Murtha.
THE TRIAL IS OVER: SSGT WUTERICH PLEADS GUILTY TO ONE COUNT OF NEGLIGENT DERELICTION OF DUTY
Nathaniel R. Helms
Camp Pendleton, Calif. The General Court Martial of US Marine Corps SSgt Frank D. Wuterich ended Monday morning after a plea deal was reached over the weekend. In return for a guilty plea to one count of Negligent Dereliction of Duty, the six-year ordeal of the 31-year old father of three is finally over.
Negligent dereliction is a lesser included offense detailed in Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Dereliction of Duty. Before the agreement, Wuterich was charged with Willful Dereliction of Duty, a much more severe offense. In return for his plea, 13 charges, including nine counts of Voluntary Manslaughter, two counts of Aggravated Assault, and two other charges of willful dereliction were dropped.
Wuterich faced more than 160 years in prison if he had been found guilty and sentenced to the maximum sentence allowed by law on each count. That option was never really on the table although the specter of life in prison wore heavily on everyone associated with the case since Wuterich and seven other Marines were charged with massacring 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq on Nov. 19, 2005.
The maximum sentence military judge LtCol David Jones can now impose on Wuterich is three months confinement and loss of two -thirds of his pay while he is confined. The Staff Sergeant told the judge he earns $3,486 a month. At risk if he is incarcerated are his three little girls, who are otherwise without a resident parent.
Wuterich admitted he failed to maintain "adequate tactical control" of three Marines he was leading and made a "negligent verbal order." While answering the military judges judge questions before the deal was done, Wuterich said comments he made to troops he was leading were negligent and may have led to the "tragic" tragic deaths of the women and children.
"I took a team of Marines to clear houses to the south of the site [where House 1 and House 2 are situated] and did use the words 'shoot first, ask questions later,' or something to that affect prior to clearing or entering there," he said.
The six-year long tragedy was triggered by a specious story in Time magazine in which reporter Tim McGirk accused a squad of Marines from Kilo, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines of running rampant through two houses full of civilians killing everyone they saw in revenge for the IED death of one of their own. McGirk graduated from University of California Berkeley and is now teaching there with money the university obtained from donors to create a fellowship teaching investigative journalism. McGirk was never at Haditha and relied on two known insurgent sympathizers masquerading as human rights workers for his facts.
Twenty-four Iraqis were killed, the Marine Corps has said, including six women and four children as Marines tried to find the gunmen who had been firing on them from houses near the bomb blast. Five Iraqi men died on a road the Marines called Route Chestnut, the only hard-surfaced thoroughfare into the southern part of the city. Wuterich testified he took and knee and shot them when they tried to flee after they inexplicably showed up seconds before the bomb exploded. Several witnesses testified they were the only Iraqis driving on the road when the blast occurred.
McGirks helpful human rights advocates, one of whom had just been released from Abu Gharib prison , and the other whom Marine signal-intercept specialists had been monitoring for months, were heard before the attack planning how to record the event for propaganda purposes. Six of the victims died in the first house the four Marines stormed and eight more died in the second they cleared with grenades and rifle fire.
The event was precipitated by the gruesome death of twenty-year old LCpl Miguel T.J. Terrazas, who died when a remotely detonated roadside bomb tore both him and the Humvee he was riding in to pieces. The bomb was buried in the hard-surfaced road and then concealed with fresh cement in plain view of the victims who lived there. Two other Marines were wounded in the attack. The decimated squad was then fired upon by unseen gunman they believed were hiding in and around two houses filled with civilians.
After the initial hearing concluded about 9:00 am PT, Wuterich shook hands with his attorneys and then turned to hug his parents David and Rosemarie Wuterich, who have been in the court room every day since testimony began two weeks ago.
Lead defense attorney Neal Puckett told LtCol Jones the negotiations that caused a flurry of speculation Wednesday and Thursday never ended but in fact had continued through the weekend. He offered the observation after LtCol Jones told the court that the first round of bargaining fell through before court resumed Friday morning.
"Nothing ever fell through," Puckett corrected the unusually patient judge before the settlement was announced. Id like to get that on the record.
Defend Our Marines has e-mailed McGirk for a comment. As of this writing he has not replied.
Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday morning at 8:30 am PT.
I came in from walking my dog and turned on the tube, and the 1st thing I saw was Fox's streamer declaring SSgt Wuterichs fate.
At least this sentance should not hinder his professional career(s)and he doesn't have to worry about his children being taken from him.
It would be a travesty to make him do the 90 days, so I'll give that even odds.
Thanks for standing inbetween the horrors you held at bay and our families, Frank, Thank You Very Much.
I’m mostly resigned to solemn contemplation at this point. It’s difficult to judge whether or not the deal was the ‘right’ move, but nonetheless it’s the decision SSgt Wuterich made, and hopefully one that will allow him to best move on with his life and his family. It’s something of a bittersweet ending to this fiasco.
Thank you, Nat Helms and Defend Our Marines. It’s been a long haul.
Given the way the military has gotten, I would not have been surprised for the “panel” to have come back with this verdict:
“Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we find the defendant Guilty on all counths”. Spit.
The NC Times is suprisingly subdued,...
I know....I think that was in SSgt Wuterich’s mind as well.
You mean, of course, the stomping part. Right? ;-)
No, bhfred....that’s not the post I was responding to.
Well, the counter top guy would have said something else. He FINALLY answered that one burning question I’ve had.
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