Another Camp Pendleton-based Marine charged with murder in the April death of an Iraqi man has struck a deal with government prosecutors, according to the North County Times.
Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr. will plead guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice next week, Steven Immel, the Marine’s attorney, told the newspaper.
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, a small village west of Baghdad.
Prosecutors allege that the accused troops 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 a stolen rifle to make it appear as if Awad was an insurgent caught in the act of planting a roadside bomb, authorities allege.
Shumate was one of five Marines who shot Awad to death, according to court documents filed by the prosecution. Shumate is also charged with assaulting another Iraqi civilian in an unrelated incident that prosecutors say took place earlier in April.
During a preliminary hearing in September, a Navy investigator testified that Shumate broke down in tears under interrogation and that he wrote a statement about Awad’s death.
Shumate is the fourth of the eight servicemen to reach a plea agreement. Three of Shumate’s squad mates have pleaded guilty to lesser charges and have testified about Awad’s death as a condition of their deals. Shumate is also expected to testify.
Today, The Washington Post also published this profile of the squad’s leader, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/13/AR2006111300097.html “target=”_blank”>Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III.
The servicemen who have already testified said Hutchins orchestrated Awad’s death and ordered the men under his command to lie about the events if questioned.