Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr. faced his accusers for the first time yesterday during an Article 32 hearing at Camp Pendleton, which yielded little new information about his alleged crimes. It did offer some information about his interrogation while still in Iraq.

Shumate is one of seven Marines and a Navy medic charged with murder, kidnapping, conspiracy and other crimes in connection with the April 26 shooting death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, a resident of Hamdaniya, Iraq.

Charging documents filed by government prosecutors allege that Shumate was one of five Marines who shot Awad to death. Shumate is also charged with assaulting another Iraqi civilian in an unrelated incident that allegedly took place earlier in April.

During the hour long hearing, three government investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service testified about statements made by Shumate during two interrogations, Reuters news agency reported.

Here’s how Kelly Garbo, a NCIS special agent, described a May 11 interview with Shumate in Iraq, according to Reuters:

“He was crying … I told him that other members of the squad had been honest and truthful and they told the real story of what happened that night, that there was indeed a kidnapping, there was a murder.”

Garbo testified that Shumate then wrote a statement on the back of a map although neither she nor the other investigators were questioned about the nature of that statement by prosecutors. The defense did not cross examine the witnesses, Reuters reported.

Prosecutors also said that they would not recommend the death penalty if Shumate is eventually convicted.

Steve Immel, Shumate’s attorney said he may make a statement later today.

The hearing is designed to help a presiding military official make a recommendation as to whether the charges should be dismissed, handled administratively or if Shumate should face a full court martial proceeding.

Shumate’s Article 32 is the third to have occurred at Camp Pendleton in recent weeks. Last month, two other Marines, Cpl. Marshall L. Magincalda and Pfc. John Jodka III, faced Article 32 hearings presiding officers’ recommendations have yet to be made public.

DANIEL STRUMPF

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