A Marine sergeant was convicted yesterday of murdering an Iraqi civilian in 2006, the second time a military jury has returned a guilty verdict in what has become one of the most complicated criminal cases from the Iraq war. The jury of three enlisted men and three military officers found Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III guilty of unpremeditated murder. His wife sobbed as the verdict was read. He embraced and kissed her before he left the courtroom. The jury also found him guilty of conspiracy and larceny because prosecutors say he stole the AK-47 and the shovel that were planted near the body during the April 26, 2006, incident. But he was found not guilty of falsifying an official statement.
The defense argued the military inquiry was shoddy and did not support the allegations that Hutchins and his squad killed 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad, then planted the AK-47 to make it look like the victim was an insurgent. Hutchins had his conviction overturned twice by military courts after rulings that there were errors in the handling of his case. The military's highest court ruled in 2013 that Navy interrogators in Iraq at the time violated his rights by holding him in solitary confinement for seven days without access to a lawyer. Hutchins will return today for sentencing, when he will learn if the judge will credit him for the seven years he already served of an 11-year sentence. (Read more Iraq war stories.)