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LCpl. Delano Holmes

The case against LCpl. Holmes was settled on December 14, 2007. Holmes was found guilty of negligent homicide and sentenced to time served (10 months), reduced in rank to private, and given a bad conduct discharge.


Latest news:

* Marine's case highlights tough prosecutorial stance: But punishment shows how lenient
military jurors can be toward cohorts
, Aamer Madhani, Chicago Tribune, January 19, 2008. [Story no longer at original url.]

* Marine sentenced to bad-conduct discharge, Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2007.

* Marine gets no time, ordered discharged for killing Iraqi army private, Mark Walker, North County Times, December 14, 2007.

* Marine convicted of killing Iraqi soldier, Mark Walker, North County Times, December 13, 2007.

* Marine convicted of manslaughter in killing of Iraqi soldier, Mark Walker, North County Times, December 13, 2007.

* Jury to resume deliberations in killing of Iraqi soldier, Mark Walker, North County Times, December 12, 2007.

* Jury gets case of Marine accused of killing Iraqi army private, Mark Walker, North County Times, December 12, 2007.

* Marine's murder case goes to jury, Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2007.

* Fate of Marine reservist who killed Iraqi soldier now with jury, San Diego Union Tribune, December 12, 2007.

* Jury to decide fate of Marine accused of killing Iraqi soldier, Associated Press, December 12, 2007.

* Coroner: Wounds Could Have Been Inflicted After Iraqi Soldier's Death, KGTV, San Diego, December 7, 2007.

* Witness: Tense Scene After Iraq Killing, Associated Press, December 4, 2007. [Story no longer at original url.]

* Marine trying to get away with murder, prosecutor alleges, Mark Walker, North County Times, December 4, 2007.

* Jury is selected for court-martial of Marine reservist accused in slaying, Los Angeles Times, December 4, 2007.

* Marine Faces Court-Martial in Iraq Death, Associated Press, December 3, 2007 (story no longer at original address).

* Trial for Marine who stabbed Iraqi, Rick Rogers, San Diego Union Tribune, December 3, 2007.

* Marine Court Martialed For Killing Iraqi Soldier, All Headline News, December 3, 2007.


* Marine faces trial for killing Iraqi soldier, Mark Walker, North County Times, November 29, 2007.

On Monday [December ], a 10-member military jury will gather in a Camp Pendleton courtroom to hear the case and decide which version of the events is best supported by the evidence.

"It all revolves around whether Delano was justified in using deadly force," Holmes' lead attorney, Steve Cook of Irvine, said this week. "Delano felt that once they were wrestling on the ground he believed the Iraqi was reaching for an AK-47."

Holmes and Iraqi army Pvt. Munther Jasem Muhammed Hassin were on guard duty at Camp Fallujah in the Anbar province in the early morning hours of Dec. 31 when the fight broke out.

Holmes told investigators the two grappled after Hassin refused to put out a cigarette and stop using an illuminated cell phone, Cook said. The fight took place in a 6-foot-by-6-foot guard station several feet above the ground.

A 22-year-old machine gunner from Indianapolis, Holmes contends the light from the cigarette and cell phone put the two in danger from snipers and that his repeated efforts to have the Iraqi put out the smoke and close the cell phone went unheeded.

The post had been fired on previously from apartment buildings and a mosque within sight of the guard station, Cook said.

Holmes was unable to reach his own gun. Instead, the defense and prosecution agree, he reached for a bayonet strapped to his flak jacket and stabbed the Iraqi soldier multiple times.

When the fighting stopped, Holmes called for a medic and reported the incident, his attorneys say.

Prosecutors, who by Marine Corps' policy will not speak about pending court cases, now contend that Holmes overreacted and stabbed the Iraqi at least 17 times.

An autopsy conducted on the man's body at Dover Air Force base in Delaware showed he had more than three dozen wounds. Holmes' attorneys contend that the man's body was in the custody of the Iraqi army before being returned to U.S. authorities and that the source of all the wounds is unclear.

Earlier this year, a hearing officer recommended Holmes be tried for what the military calls "unpremeditated murder" and filing a false statement. Unpremeditated murder is the equivalent to second-degree murder in the civilian justice system.

The latter charge alleges Holmes lied when he told investigators the Iraqi had managed to fire his AK-47. Prosecutors say it was Holmes who actually fired the weapon to support his story of what happened.

Sorting out the conflicting versions, testimony from what could be as many as 50 witnesses and the forensic evidence will be a jury composed of 10 of Holmes' fellow Marines. The panel, which includes one colonel, two lieutenant colonels, three staff sergeants, a master sergeant and a gunnery sergeant, will hear the case over the next two weeks.

Efforts to resolve the case short of trial, with Holmes pleading guilty to a lesser offense, failed because prosecutors insisted that Holmes acknowledge wrongdoing. His attorneys would not disclose the specifics of that deal.

Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey Meeks will preside over the trial. The first order of business will be deciding several motions, including whether the jury will see graphic pre- and post-autopsy photos of the Iraqi and whether it will hear about the number of stab wounds.

Holmes has been held in the Camp Pendleton brig since being ordered back to the U.S. in February. He was initially held in a solitary cell under maximum security restrictions that were later lifted, allowing him to mix with the general population.

Efforts by his attorneys to have Holmes released pending trial failed.

"He's anxious to get his case in front of the jury," Cook said, adding the defense has not decided if Holmes will testify.

The trial is expected to last up to 10 days.


Here's LCpl Holmes' story, according to the Los Angeles Times...

A Marine is in the brig awaiting court-martial on a charge of killing an Iraqi soldier with his bayonet while the two were assigned to a nighttime sentry post at Camp Fallujah.

Marine Lance Cpl. Delano Holmes, 21, says he acted in self-defense when he thought the Iraqi, who was wearing a ski mask, smoking and talking on a cell phone, might have been signaling to an insurgent sniper.

Three days earlier, in a different location in Fallujah, three Marines in Holmes' battalion were killed in a sniper attack....

Holmes' civilian defense counsel, former federal prosecutor Stephen Cook, said the investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service "was shockingly flawed" and, among other oversights, never sought to investigate the background of the dead Iraqi to see if he had insurgent ties.

Also, he said, the Iraqi's cell phone was never recovered to see what numbers he had been calling or whether he was sending text messages.

Cook said Holmes told the Iraqi to put down his cigarette and cell phone and when he refused, a fight broke out. Holmes is accused of stabbing the Iraqi at least 10 times.


News articles

* Marine's Mother: Murder Charge Is 'Nightmare', Channel 6 Indy News, November 29, 2007. [Story no longer at original url.]

* A cigarette, a war-zone fight, now a murder trial, Rob Schneider, Indianapolis Star, November 27, 2007. [Story no longer at original url.]

* Lawyers: Marine was being treated, Rick Rodgers, San Diego Union-Tribune, November 1, 2007.

* Marine accused of killing Iraqi soldier: Attacker says he saw possible enemy link, Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, September 4, 2007.

* Hoosier accused of killing Iraqi soldier: Marine from Indianapolis says he acted in self-defense during 2006 incident, Indianapolis Star, August 16, 2007. [Story no longer at original url.]