October 28, 2010

By mutual agreement the long delayed general court martial of Haditha defendant SSgt Frank Wuterich, a Camp Pendleton Marine accused of multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, has been postponed “by agreement between prosecution and defense,” according to lead defense attorney Neal Puckett.

Wuterich and seven other Marines were indicted for murder and cover up in December 2005. The charges stemmed from an incident at Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2004 in which one Marine and 24 Iraqi citizens were killed and 11 Marines were wounded. Since then charges against six of the defendants were dismissed and another Marine was acquitted.

 

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In a related matter Puckett said he has filed a motion appealing a Marine Corps judge’s decision not to dismiss charges against Wuterich after the Marine Corps forced his appointed military defense attorney to retire while allowed the appointed military prosecutor, a reservist from Chicago to remain past his tour of duty. Puckett, a former Marine Corps military judge, has said Wuterich was denied his inherent right to retain the military lawyer appointed by the Marine Corps to defend him so the case must be dismissed.

 “Today we filed an extraordinary writ to the Navy Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals challenging Judge [Lt. Col. David] Jones’s denial of our motion for appropriate relief based on the Hutchins decision,” Puckett said Thursday evening in an e-mail.

US Marine Corps Central Command Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Joseph D. Kloppel said the Marine Corps would comment when it had more information.

(For more, see the write up: PETITION FOR EXTRAORDINARY RELIEF IN THE NATURE OF A WRIT OF MANDAMUS AND BRIEF IN SUPPORT

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