July 24, 2008, 8:55 PM EST
ALL CHARGES DISMISSED
Dismissed with prejudice by LtGen Samuel Helland
USMC Press Release
#08- 004 July 24, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHARGES AGAINST MARINE SNIPER DISMISSED
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.
charges were preferred on May 19, 2008. The Article 32
Investigation Hearing was held on the 1st and 2nd of July.
Marine Corps is committed to fair proceedings in compliance with
the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Previously reported on Defend
JUDGE RECOMMENDS DISMISSAL OF MANSLAUGHTER CHARGES IN
SGT JOHN WINNICK CASE
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
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.
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
Officer recommends against court-martial for Iraqi deaths, Rick
Rogers, San Diego Union Tribune, July 14, 2008.
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,
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.
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
(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,
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
'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."
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
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.