Pfc. John Jodka, one of eight Camp Pendleton-based Marines charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in the April 26 death of an Iraqi citizen in Hamdaniya, has waved his right to the military version of a grand jury hearing.

Joeseph Casas, Jodka’s attorney, said the decision to forgo the hearing was made after military prosecutors refused to allow the defense access to all of the evidence against his client.

A list of items withheld include a complete autopsy of the alleged victim, the ability to visit the scene of the alleged crime in Iraq, financial assistance for expert witnesses and the opportunity to interview Jodka’s Iraqi accusers, according to a press release issued by Casas.

Several other requests – including intelligence reports on Hamdaniya, information about known insurgents in the area and prior false complaints filed by Iraqi civilians – were all denied as “irrelevant,” according to the release.

Without all of the evidence, Casas said he couldn’t have properly defended Jodka and the Article 32 hearing would have been meaningless.

Unlike a grand jury hearing, an Article 32 hearing is an adversarial proceeding in which the defense is allowed to present its own evidence and cross-examine witnesses. An investigative officer who oversees the hearing then makes a recommendation to a commanding officer about whether the charges should proceed to a full court martial or be dismissed.

A date for Jodka’s court martial has yet to be set.


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