Military court overturns former Marine conviction

SAN DIEGO – A military court today overturned a former Camp Pendleton Marine’s conviction stemming from the killing of unarmed man in Iraq in 2006.

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 was a squad leader of a unit conducting counter-insurgency operations.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces overturned his 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.

A rehearing could be authorized, according to the decision.

Hutchins’ conviction was also overturned in 2010, but was reinstated.

Hutchins has served about 6 1/2 years of an 11-year sentence, and is housed in the brig at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Seven other Marines and a Navy corpsman were initially charged in the case.

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