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Lance Cpl. Tyler Jackson said he didn’t want to kill an Iraqi man who he thought was an insurgent when he fired at him in April, the Marine testified during a court martial at Camp Pendleton today.

Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and aggravated assault as part of plea agreement reached with government prosecutors. The 23 year-old Marine was initially charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in connection with the April shooting death of an Iraqi man.

In June, Jackson, six other Marines and a Navy Medic were charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in connection with the April 26 shooting death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, an Iraqi man in Hamdaniya, a small village west of Baghdad.

Government prosecutors allege that the accused abducted Awad from his home, bound his hands and feet and shot him to death. The troops then used a stolen shovel and shell casings from the stolen rifle to make it appear as if Awad was an insurgent caught in the act of planting a roadside bomb, authorities allege.

Jackson was one of several Marines who allegedly fired his weapon at Awad, according to government charging documents.

In the courtroom, Jackson admitted that that he plotted with this squad mates to abduct an Iraqi man named Saleh Gowad, who they thought was an insurgent, according to the North County Times. The troops allegedly abducted Awad after they were unable to find Gowad. Jackson said he believed he was actually shooting at Gowad and fired above his head.

“I knew that he was going to be shot, but I didn’t want to be the one who did it,” Jackson said, according to the newspaper.

Last month, a Marine and a Navy medic pleaded guilty to lesser charges after agreeing to testify about Awad’s death.

Jackson will learn his punishment when a Marine general hands down his sentence.

DANIEL STRUMPF

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