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CHARGES DISMISSED AGAINST
COMPANY COMMANDER
IN THE HADITHA, IRAQ INVESTIGATION

Press release from attorney Kevin McDermott

September 18, 2007

San Clemente, California

Defense Attorneys for Capt. Lucas McConnell USMC announced today that all charges against their client were dismissed by Government prosecutors.

In a news brief released jointly by lead counsel, Kevin Barry McDermott, and military co-counsels Capt. Joseph Grimm, Capt. Robert Muth and Capt. John Seeds,  it was announced that the Government had concluded that it had insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction against Capt. McConnell and could no longer pursue the case.

Capt. McConnell was originally charged on December 22, 2006 with two counts of dereliction of duty for failing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 16 civilians in the city of Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005. The charges arose after an investigation was initiated following a story published in the March 19, 2006 issue of Time magazine and the investigation ultimately led to charges against eight Marines, to include Capt. McConnell, the commander for Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

After a roadside bomb detonated and killed a Marine and injured two others, Marines of Kilo Company responded to small arms fire directed at them from nearby housing. In their response, sixteen civilians, including women and children were killed. At issue in the case were the underlying facts of the deaths of the civilians and the definition of the rules of engagement against an insurgent enemy.

The military prosecutors conducted preliminary hearings against the eight defendants beginning in April 2007 and continuing through the present. During these hearings, the Government was compelled to reveal the existence of aerial drones that recorded the events of that day, transcribed message traffic between Capt. McConnell’s unit and higher command and the defense uncovered evidence of the existence of an Iraqi conspiracy to discredit Marine actions on that day.

As counsel McDermott highlighted in the brief Time magazine has had to quietly publish retractions to the original story on at least two occasions.  Additionally evidence from the aerial drones proved convincingly, contrary to the Time story, that Haditha, on November 19, 2005, was anything but a sleepy burg. It was crawling with insurgents and the roadside bomb that they detonated was the call to arms. McDermott also revealed that a video from the drone released to CNN last month showed that the rules of engagement in Haditha authorized the use of Harrier jets dropping 500 pound bombs on suspected insurgent strongholds. “If the rules of engagement allowed Marine jets to hit a target without first knocking on the door, it allowed a Marine squad to do the same. Both are equally lethal,” said McDermott.

Capt. McConnell, married and the father of two, said he is looking forward to getting this situation behind him and continuing his Marine Corps career. He also added that he regrets the loss of life on November 19, 2005 but noted that the fight was taken to the insurgents who dictated circumstances of the battlefield. 

Capt. McConnell also noted that the dismissal of the charges was not pursuant to a plea bargain. 


SOURCE Office of Kevin Barry McDermott

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