SAN DIEGO – A former Camp Pendleton Marine whose murder conviction stemming from the killing of unarmed Iraqi man in 2006 was overturned last month was freed from the Miramar brig today after serving more than half of his 11-year sentence.
Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III was convicted in 2007 after being accused of being the mastermind of a plan to kidnap and kill a suspected insurgent, but grabbed another man instead when the suspected insurgent’s family foiled the plot.
Hutchins, of Plymouth, Mass., was a squad leader of a unit conducting counter-insurgency operations.
He will now return to Camp Pendleton for a new assignment, according to published reports, which cited Marine Corps Lt. Col. Joseph Kloppel.
On June 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces overturned Hutchins’ conviction for unpremeditated murder on the grounds his Fifth Amendment rights were violated.
According to court documents, Hutchins was held in solitary confinement for seven days and denied the ability to communicate with a lawyer, after asking for one during an interrogation. His belongings were searched, and he later waived his rights and provided a confession, which the court contended was illegally obtained.
The court said a military judge erred when admitting the statement in a previous hearing.
On Thursday, the Court of Appeals denied prosecutors’ request to reconsider its decision, paving the way for Hutchins release from custody.
Seven other Marines and a Navy corpsman were initially charged in the case, and none received sentences longer than 16 months.