A U.S. Marine convicted of the 2006 murder of a former Iraqi police officer was sentenced on Thursday to time he had already served in confinement, in a decision by a military jury at Camp Pendleton in California.
The jury also gave Marine Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins III a bad-conduct discharge from the Marine Corps. He had served about seven years in confinement and had faced a possible sentence of four more years.
After the killing in Iraq came to light, then-U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus called it a “cold-blooded murder”.
Defense attorney Christopher Oprison said Hutchins’ family welcomed the sentence because he does not have to serve any more time in the brig.
“I think they’re ecstatic right now,” Oprison said.
Hutchins, who pleaded not guilty in the case, was initially convicted in 2007 for the killing and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The sentence later was reduced to 11 years, which including the seven years he served in confinement pending appeal had left open the possibility of a four-year sentence.
A military court overturned his conviction in 2010, finding a statement he gave while in custody should have been ruled inadmissible.
A military appeals court later reinstated the conviction, then overturned it again in 2013 because Hutchins was denied access to a lawyer for a week early in the investigation.
Hutchins was the leader of a squad of Marines that went on a mission aimed at stopping militants’ use of improvised explosive devices in the village of Hamdania, Iraq, in the early morning of April 26, 2006.
Witnesses said Hutchins and another Marine shot 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad, a retired policeman and father of 11 and grandfather of four, and placed an AK-47 and a shovel next to the corpse to suggest he had been planting a bomb.