Article 32 hearing: August 20-28, 2008

July 24, 2008, 8:55 PM EST

Dismissed with prejudice by LtGen Samuel Helland


USMC Press Release #08- 004  July 24, 2008


CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. The commanding general for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force dismissed charges without prejudice against Sgt. John F. Winnick II, yesterday. 

Charges were for alleged involvement in the deaths of two Syrians and the wounding of two others on or about June 17, 2007.

The charges were preferred on May 19, 2008.  The Article 32 Investigation Hearing was held on the 1st and 2nd of July.  

The Marine Corps is committed to fair proceedings in compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice.


Previously reported on Defend Our Marines

July 14, 2008


Minor dereliction charge, with nonjudicial punishment, recommended by hearing officer

Defense attorney Dan Conway tells Defend Our Marines, "We're pleased with the Investigating Officer's recommendation after carefully reviewing all of the evidence.  Our Marines deserve the benefit of the doubt when they make good faith decisions to use force in self-defense during combat. Sgt Winnick is a stand-up Marine and he's eager to get back to work."

Read the Investigator's Report here.


News coverage and analysis

Charges dropped against Marine sniper in Iraq shootings, San Diego Union Tribune, July 24, 2008

General orders case dismissed against Sgt John "Johnny" Winnick, North County Times, July 24, 2008.

First report: Charges Dismissed Against Marine In Iraq Shootings, Associated Press, July 24, 2008

Report says drop manslaughter charges against Marine: Hearing officer recommends Sgt. John 'Johnny' Winnick face administrative punishment, Mark Walker, North County Times, July 14, 2008.

Court martial is not recommended for Marine in deadly Iraq shootings: A hearing officer says manslaughter and assault charges against a Marine sniper should be dropped. Two Syrians were killed and two others were wounded in the 2007 attack, Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2008.

Officer recommends against court-martial for Iraqi deaths, Rick Rogers, San Diego Union Tribune, July 14, 2008.

Commentary: Important ROE case, Bruce Kesler, Democracy Project, July 2, 2008.

Sgt John Winnick Article 32 Hearing / Day Two / July 2, Wednesday

Accused of manslaughter, Marine says he's eager to return to Iraq, The Camp Pendleton sniper, at a hearing on his actions that led to the deaths of 2 Syrians in Iraq, says he's eager to return 'and serve my country.' A superior testifies he shot too quickly, Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2008.

Defense presented in killing of two Iraqis, Rick Rogers, San Diego Union-Tribune, July 2, 2008

Marine sniper defends his actions, Mark Walker, North County Times, July 2, 2008.

Sgt John Winnick Article 32 Hearing / Day One / July 1, Tuesday

Sniper's actions defended during hearing, Hearing for Sgt. John 'Johnny' Winnick II continues at Camp Pendleton Wednesday, Mark Walker, North County Times, July 1, 2008.

Marines testify sniper thought he shot insurgents, The Associated Press, July 1, 2008.

Marine snipers' killing rules have never been clear, lieutenant testifies, Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2008.

Motives in killing of Iraqi civilians traded at Article 32 hearing, Rick Rogers, San Diego Union-Tribune, July 1, 2008.

Marines speak at sniper's hearing over Iraq deaths, Allison Hoffman, Associated Press, July 1, 2008. [Story no longer at original url.]

Manslaughter case against Marine sniper under way, Mark Walker, North County Times, July 1, 2008.

Statement  to Defend Our Marines from defense attorney, Dan Conway, July 1, 2008...

"Through four combat deployments, one combat meritorious promotion to corporal, and countless engagements with the enemy, Sgt Winnick earned a reputation as one of the best.

"We're confident that after reviewing the evidence, the Marine Corps will do the right thing and dismiss the charges. Despite all that Sgt Winnick has been through with the uncertainty of the legal process, he loves the Marine Corps and is eager to get back to sharing the wisdom of four deployments with his Marines."

NOTE: Sgt Winnick has an experienced defense team of Gary Myers and Dan Conway (civilian counsel for LCpl Sharratt in the Haditha case) and Jeffrey Muoz (military counsel on the LCpl Tatum team in the Haditha case).

Hearing in Marine sniper case set: Session will help determine if charges against Sgt. John 'Johnny' Winnick move forward, Mark Walker, North County Times, June 30, 2008.

Marine standout now accused of crimes, Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2008.

An Article 32 the military's equivalent of a preliminary hearing may be held as early as next week at Camp Pendleton. Winnick is a sniper attached to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

In 2004, while also serving with the Three-One, his quick thinking and aggressiveness during the battle for Fallouja were extolled by author Bing West in his book "No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah."

From page 291, describing the action as Marines were in a house-to-house fight with insurgents:

"They rushed down to the street. As they moved up the alley, Lance Corporal John Winnick, a machine-gunner, ran toward (Lt. Jesse) Grapes with an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) launcher and a bag full of rockets. 'Sir can I shoot these back at them?' Winnick yelled.

'Do you know how to use that thing?' Grapes asked.

Winnick had never held or fired an RPG. "Yes, sir. Fired one in a threat weapons course!' Winnick said.

'Then start firing!'"

Winnick fired twice, blowing open a gate and then hitting a fuel drum inside a house as Marines cheered. "In minutes the fire had spread through the first floor, and the insurgents had fled."

Marine charged with voluntary manslaughter in Iraqi deaths, Chelsea J. Carter, Associated Press, June 6, 2008.

A Marine sniper has been charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting deaths of two civilians in Iraq.

Sgt. John Winnick II also has been charged with aggravated assault against two other civilians and failing to adhere to the military's rules of engagement.

Winnick's attorney, Gary Myers, said a hearing will be held to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to court-martial the Marine.

The charges allege Winnick killed the civilians on June 17, 2007, during combat operations near Lake Tharthar in Iraq's western Anbar province. The charges also allege he fired at two others without first determining whether any of the civilians posed a threat, Myers said.

The lake was once Saddam Hussein's favorite fishing spot. The military believed the fairly isolated area was being used for training and recuperation by insurgents.

Marines spokesman Mike Alvarez confirmed the charges.

Winnick is a member of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, Alvarez said. Winnick was working with the base's 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit at the time of the shootings.

The charges carry a maximum 40-year sentence and a dishonorable discharge.

The case against Winnick, whose hometown and age were not immediately released, comes on the heels of other cases in which Camp Pendleton Marines were charged with wrongdoing in Iraq, including the shooting deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha and the fatal shooting of a civilian in Hamdania.

Marine sniper facing manslaughter charges, Camp Pendleton sergeant accused of violating rules of engagement in 2007 shooting in western Iraq, Mark Walker, North County Times, June 5, 2008.


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