27 March 2010

Marine's court-martial cleared for trial; no unlawful command influence

The San Diego Union Tribune is reporting here that a military judge at Camp Pendleton has cleared the way for the court-martial of U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich. Earlier in the week Lieutenant Colonel David Jones, USMC, the military judge in Wuterich's court-martial, ruled that the burden had shifted to the Government to disprove unlawful command influence occurred. I discussed that here. However, on Friday Jones ruled that there was no unlawful command influence and denied the defense's motion to dismiss the case.

Wuterich will now have to defend himself on nine counts of voluntary manslaughter and other charges consisting of aggravated assault, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice.

There is website that has been setup to support Wuterich and gives information about the case, which can be found here. A second website called Defend Our Marines also concerns the Wuterich case as well as other Marines involved in incidents in Fallajuh and Haditha. (Back in 2008 I wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled Separate and unequal military justice concerning Marine Sergeant Jose Luis Nazzario's acquittal.)

Wuterich is well represented by civilian attorneys Neal Puckett and Mark Zaid. He is also assigned military defense counsel Lieutenant Colonel Colby Vokey, USMC.

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