US court denies appeal in Iraq war murder case

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The U.S. military’s highest court has denied a government request to reconsider the overturned murder conviction of a Marine who has served more than half of his 11-year sentence in one of the biggest war crime cases to emerge from the Iraq war.

The denial from the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces clears the way for the release of Lawrence Hutchins III.

Hutchins’ military attorney, Maj. Babu Kaza, told U-T San Diego and the Los Angeles Times that Hutchins will be released Friday and reassigned.

The Navy can still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or retry Hutchins.

The appeals court overturned Hutchins’ conviction on June 26, supporting his claims that his rights were violated when he was held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for seven days during his 2006 interrogation in Iraq. Prosecutors said Hutchins waived his right to counsel at the time.

Hutchins led an eight-man squad accused of kidnapping an Iraqi man from his home in April 2006, marching him to a ditch and shooting him to death in the village of Hamdania.

Hutchins has said he thought the man — who turned out to be a retired policeman — was an insurgent leader.

None of the other seven squad members served more than 18 months.

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