Skip to comments.Delay is likely for (Camp)Pendleton(8) hearings
Posted on 07/19/2006 8:18:18 PM PDT by radar101
For weeks, attorneys for eight Camp Pendleton service members accused of murdering an Iraqi man thought hearings would begin by month's end.
Now it appears that legal and logistical issues will delay those hearings until September or later. The postponement has prompted at least one of the lawyers to say that base officials should release the suspects from jail until the scheduling is sorted out.
I think we will make a request to take them out of brig, said attorney Joseph Casas, who represents Marine Pfc. John J. Jodka, a native of Encinitas.
The defendants have been jailed since May 11, first in Iraq and then at Camp Pendleton.
Long Beach attorney Joseph H. Low said he doubts that Marine prosecutors are interested in releasing anyone.
If I'm the commanding officer of the brig, I'm going to let them sit there in the hopes that they break down and say anything to get out, said Low, who represents Marine Cpl. Marshall L. Magincalda. There is no case law that says they have to release them.
Besides Jodka and Magincalda, the defendants are Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, a Navy corpsman, and the following Marines: Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, Lance Cpl. Tyler A. Jackson, Lance Cpl. Robert B. Pennington, Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr. and Cpl. Trent D. Thomas.
The suspects are from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. They are accused of taking Hashim Ibrahim Awad from his home in Hamdaniya, Iraq, on April 26 and shooting him, then trying to make it look as if he was planting a roadside bomb.
The men are charged with premeditated murder, kidnapping, assault, conspiracy, larceny, obstruction of justice, making false official statements and unlawfully breaking into Awad's home. Their next step in the legal process is the Article 32 hearing, which is roughly equivalent to a grand jury proceeding.
During the hearing, prosecutors and defense attorneys lay out their case with witnesses and other evidence. An investigating officer reviews the case and recommends whether each suspect should proceed to trial, known as court-martial.
Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, defendants usually are brought to trial within 120 days of confinement. That prospect looks unlikely in the Hamdaniya case because prosecutors and defense attorneys said they still have to gather and review a lot of evidence.
Dozens of people have gathered outside Camp Pendleton's main gate each weekend to protest the incarceration of the Hamdaniya suspects.
Some of the demonstrators have said the Marine Corps is guilty of a double standard. They cite a different case in which other Camp Pendleton Marines have been accused of killing 24 civilians without cause last November in Haditha, Iraq. Those service members remain free pending possible charges.
Besides confirming a date for the Article 32 hearings, a number of other Hamdaniya issues remain unresolved, including:
Will the Marine Corps allow defense lawyers military counsel and/or civilian attorneys to travel to Hamdaniya to gather evidence?
Will the Marine Corps pay for expert defense witnesses? If so, how much?
When will the prosecution release all of its evidence to the defense?
On Friday, the Marine Corps sent defense attorneys more evidence that included 540 pages of findings by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
It has not released the final autopsy report on Awad, which intrigued David Brahms of Carlsbad, who represents Pennington.
You would think that if they had some (incriminating) evidence that they would parade it around, Brahms said.
Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a Marine spokesman, said evidence is being turned over to the defense as soon as the prosecution receives it.
Gibson said that it is premature to send lawyers to Iraq for evidence-gathering before the Article 32 hearings take place. That position concerns Thomas Watt, a North County attorney representing Jackson.
In order to hold a comprehensive . . . Article 32, isn't it important to talk to witnesses and to see the crime scene beforehand? Watt said.
Rick Rogers: (760) 476-8212; firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm inclined to believe that this is a farce. Another setup of our boys by Muslim animals.
Let these men go free, at least until the hearings get underway. What a crock of crap.
Why didn't they do this before now?
Aw geeze what did Tom get accused of this time that he has to go to Pendleton ?
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