CAMP PENDLETON (CBS) — A U.S. Marine squad leader accepted a plea deal on Monday in a move that signals the abrupt end to a case that has done little to boost America’s military reputation around the world.
KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports a guilty plea cut short the nearly 7-year-old manslaughter case stemming from the deaths of 24 Iraqis.
Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich of Meriden, Conn., entered a guilty plea at Camp Pendleton to dereliction of duty, while all other charges were dropped.
Wuterich was a squad leader among several troops involved in a mass killing that included Iraqi women and children after a roadside bomb killed one Marine and injured two others in Haditha in 2005.
“This is the end of a difficult trial and a very troubling event in American history,” said former Marine judge advocate Gary Solis. “The case ends not with a bang but with a whimper, and a weak one at that.”
Federal prosecutors were forced to cut a deal after their own witnesses testified in favor of Wuterich.
He could face up to three months imprisonment along with a forfeiture of two-thirds of his pay and a rank demotion when he faces sentencing later this week.
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