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The squad leader who allegedly incited six other Marines and a Navy Medic under his command to shoot an Iraqi civilian and then lie about the incident faced a preliminary hearing today at Camp Pendleton.
No testimony was given during the Article 32 hearing for Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, but attorneys for the defense and prosecution agreed to submit written evidence, according to the Associated Press.
An Article 32 hearing is a military version of a civilian grand jury hearing. A military judge will wait to review the written evidence before deciding whether Hutchins should face a court martial.
Hutchins is charged with murder, kidnapping, conspiracy and other crimes in connection with the April shooting death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, an Iraqi man in Hamdaniya, a small village west of Baghdad.
Prosecutors allege the accused troops abducted Awad from his home, bound his hands and feet, shot him to death and used a stolen shovel and rifle to make it appear as if he was an insurgent caught in the act of planting a roadside bomb.
Hutchins allegedly shot Awad, called in a false radio report, instructed his squad mates to lie about the incident and made several false reports to military officials and criminal investigators, according to a charging document filed by the prosecution.
During a court martial hearing earlier this month, Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, a Navy medic charged in Awad’s death, testified that Hutchins was the ring leader of the attack. Bacos’ testimony came in exchange for leniency as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Hutchins is also charged with assaulting three Iraqi civilians in an unrelated incident.