by David Allender and Nathaniel R. Helms |
September 24, 2008 |
7:40 PM EASTERN |
6:05 AM EASTERN
One of the former Marines Rep. John
Murtha (D-PA) accused of “cold blooded murder” at Haditha, Iraq more
than two years ago will sue the
powerful Pennsylvania Congressman for his fallacious remarks,
Defend Our Marines has learned.
Former Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt is
planning to file suit in federal court against Murtha on Thursday
The suit accuses the congressman of slander and violating the Marine's
right to a fair trial and due process.
Sharratt, 23, was
charged on December 21,
2006 by the Marine Corps with murder for the deaths
of three of 24 Iraqi citizens killed when his squad of infantrymen
swept through several homes in Haditha on November 19, 2005 following
a roadside ambush.
On August 9, 2007, more
than eighteen months after the incident and more than a year after
Murtha’s public utterances inflamed public opinion, Gen James N.
dismissed all charges against the veteran machine gunner after an
evidentiary hearing showed he was innocent.
"The evidence does not support a referral
to a court-martial," Mattis wrote in his decision.
The dismissal followed
a recommendation from an investigating officer who heard evidence
in the case. Under military law, a commanding general – called the
convening authority –
had total jurisdiction over Sharratt’s case.
Lt. Col. Paul Ware, the Marine Corps
military judge who heard the evidence, said murder charges brought
against Sharratt were based on unreliable witness accounts, poor
forensic evidence and questionable legal theories.
told Ware that he shot the three Iraqi men only after one of them
pointed a gun at him. In a remarkable turn of events, Sharratt managed
to kill his attackers with his pistol after his light machine gun
"I kept firing until my
magazine was empty because I didn't know if they had body armor or
suicide vests," he said. He added that his machine gun had jammed, so
he was forced to use a 9-millimeter handgun he had borrowed from a
"We did not execute any
Iraqi males," Sharratt stated. "On Nov. 19, I did exactly as I was
trained to do. I will always be proud of my service in Iraq, and I
will always be proud to be a Marine."
In his report Ware said Sharratt's version
is “strongly corroborated by independent forensic analysis of the
Prosecutors had accused Sharratt and other
members of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment of
going on a revenge-motivated killing spree after a road-side bomb
killed a fellow Marine.
"The government version is unsupported by
independent evidence," Ware wrote in his 18-page report. "To believe
the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing
evidence to the contrary."
Sharratt is currently
represented by Pittsburgh lawyer Noah Geary, a 36 year old with a
reputation for taking on the big dogs.
“Bully my client and I'll
bully you," may not be his firm's formal tagline, but that's the type
of service that small firm lawyer Noah Geary delivers, according to an
April 2006 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"I don't like bullies,"
Geary told the Pittsburgh Gazette newspaper in 2006. "I didn't
become a lawyer to make money. If someone's going to bully a client of
mine, they're going to get it. I'm going to go after the bully."
“Standing up to bullies
doesn't come easy though, and the article describes that Geary can
often be found late at night in his office working his cases,” added
Washington, D.C. attorney Carolyn Elephant, a blogger who wrote about
him as well.
According to his online
biography Geary grew up on a 30-acre farm in Somerset Township. He
graduated from the University of Dayton and attended law school at
Geary will have his hands
full with the 17-term Democrat who represents the pork-fed 12th
Congressional District. Murtha is currently the ninth most senior
member of the 435 member U.S. House of Representatives and is up for
reelection this year.
Ironically the Sharratts
reside in Murtha’s Congressional District.
Sharratt’s parents Darryl
and Theresa Sharratt
called for Murtha to be censured in July 2007
after Murtha went on international television accusing their son of
"It's too late for an
apology," said Darryl Sharratt, of Canonsburg, Pa.
"We need this man
censured by our Congress," Sharratt said at the time. “He denied my
son his constitutional rights to a fair trial and a presumption of
"This is what we've been
fighting for in Iraq," Sharratt added. "This is what we've been
fighting for -- what soldiers and Marines have been dying for -- for
the past 200 years."
Sharratt and Geary are
scheduled to make the announcement at KDKA, the local CBS affiliate in
Nathaniel R. Helms
Defend Our Marines
24 September 2008
Note: Nat Helms is a Contributing Editor to Defend Our
Marines. He is a Vietnam veteran, former police officer, war
correspondent, and, most recently, author of
My Men Are My Heroes: The Brad Kasal Story (Meredith Books, 2007).