The conviction of Marine Sgt. Lawrence “Larry” Hutchins for killing Iraqi civilian, Hashim Ibrahim Awad, has been overturned by a military appeals court. The outcome is still unknown. According to the Sergeant’s father, the charges may be dropped, he could be released from his 11 year prison sentence for time served or they could retry the case – a decision which the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps must make within 30 days.
The court ruled that Sg. Hutchins was denied a fair trial because his lead attorney was improperly dismissed from the case before the court martial, but Thad Coakley, a former Marine Corps judge advocate said he believes the government will appeal:
Coakley added that the court’s “opinion makes no comment and therefore no judgment on the validity of the facts associated with this case. This opinion is focused upon a procedural error and a failure to maintain an attorney-client relationship.”
But Hutchins’ attorney, Marine Capt. S. Babu Kaza says he doubts that Hutchins will face a new trial, as:
“recent comments by the secretary of the Navy regarding Hutchins’ case and that of seven co-defendants has highly prejucidiced any further legal action against him…
April 2006 Sgt. Hutchins’ squadron allegedly shot and killed Hashim Ibrahim Awad, an Iraqi civilian, near the village of Hamdania.
After the conviction, Hutchins lost his rank and was busted back to ‘private’. The court ruling could change that. Hutchins was based at Camp Pendelton, and is currently serving time at Ft. Levenworth, Kansas.