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Marine spared prison time in death of Iraqi man (Cpl. Trent Thomas, bad conduct discharge)
AP on Bakersfield Californian ^ | 7/20/07 | Allison Hoffman - ap

Posted on 07/20/2007 10:08:27 AM PDT by NormsRevenge

A military jury on Friday spared a Marine of prison time for kidnapping and conspiring to murder an Iraqi man who was killed as troops hunted in vain for a suspected insurgent.

Cpl. Trent Thomas was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge and reduced pay.

A military jury of three officers and six enlisted Marines deliberated for less than an hour before returning their decision.

Thomas, a 25-year-old father of two, faced a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. He was convicted Wednesday of kidnapping and conspiracy to murder an Iraqi man after a botched attempt to capture a suspected insurgent in the village of Hamdania in April 2006.

Thomas was acquitted of the most serious charge of premeditated murder, which would have carried a mandatory life sentence, and of lesser offenses including making a false official statement, housebreaking and larceny.

Prosecutors had recommended Thomas be sentenced to 15 years in prison with a dishonorable discharge, reduction in pay and forfeiture.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Government; US: California; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: hamdania; marine; spared; trentthomas
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1 posted on 07/20/2007 10:08:29 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
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To: RedRover; RaceBannon; freema

fyi

Bad-conduct discharge, reduced pay


2 posted on 07/20/2007 10:09:43 AM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Welcome to FR. The Virtual Boot Camp for 'infidels' in waiting)
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To: 4woodenboats; aculeus; American Cabalist; AmericanYankee; AndrewWalden; Antoninus; AliVeritas; ...
MAJOR NEWS IN HAMDANIA CASE!


3 posted on 07/20/2007 10:13:10 AM PDT by RedRover (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: NormsRevenge

The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. If he’s guilty (and he was convicted) he should have gotten a stiffer sentence. If he wasn’t guilty, he shouldn’t have been convicted.


4 posted on 07/20/2007 10:16:40 AM PDT by PAR35
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To: NormsRevenge
Cpl. Trent Thomas was screwed. He should have been acquitted outright.
5 posted on 07/20/2007 10:21:06 AM PDT by Jaysun (Certified thread hijacker since 7-7-07 (by restornu and blu))
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To: PAR35

The fog of war.


6 posted on 07/20/2007 10:21:43 AM PDT by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: NormsRevenge

A couple thoughts.

Thomas was held in a brig (including an improvised brig that was a toilet-less conex box out in the sun) for more than a year. So he wasn’t spared prison time by the Marine authorities.

Rob Pennington copped a plea and is serving eight years in prison at Miramar. Lesson learned: Playing ball gets you screwed.


7 posted on 07/20/2007 10:22:02 AM PDT by RedRover (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: PAR35

His wife testified in mitigation at the sentencing portion of the trial IIRC. Her tears and other testimony got the reduced sentence.


8 posted on 07/20/2007 10:22:34 AM PDT by jimfree (Freep and ye shall find.)
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To: NormsRevenge
Cpl. Trent Thomas was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge and reduced pay.

Never having run afoul of the UCMJ I'm a bit confused.If he's being discharged why would his reduction in "pay" (which I assume means a reduction in rank) matter?

9 posted on 07/20/2007 10:24:44 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If martyrdom is so cool,why does Osama Obama go to such great lengths to avoid it?)
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To: PAR35

If you were on the jury and the prosecution couldn’t even tell you who the victim was and how he died, what would you have done?

Screwed up case, screwed up verdict.


10 posted on 07/20/2007 10:26:52 AM PDT by RedRover (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: NormsRevenge; RedRover

I’m relieved he didn’t receive more jail time, he’s served enough, IMO. I know he pleaded to stay in the Corps and I would have liked to have seen that but the panel really didn’t have much choice.

Thanks for the ping, Red.


11 posted on 07/20/2007 10:29:18 AM PDT by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: jazusamo
None of this is coming out the way Murtha promised the Sheikhs.

Wonder what happens to Congress-critters who double-cross their benefactors.

BTW, I see this guy's penalty being further reduced a couple of years down the road ~ and maybe even the penalty for the other guys who plea bargained.

Would be nice if they identified the victims first in future cases. Nothing more embarrassing than to end up with the wrong body as you enter the sentencing phase.

12 posted on 07/20/2007 10:33:28 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: RedRover

Not a perfect outcome of a bad trial but I am glad that the hero Marine did not go to jail.


13 posted on 07/20/2007 10:35:09 AM PDT by jveritas (God bless our brave troops and President Bush.)
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To: RedRover

Acquitted.


14 posted on 07/20/2007 10:37:10 AM PDT by pissant (Duncan Hunter: Warrior, Statesman, Conservative)
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To: PAR35

I for one, Thank God that you weren’t on the jury.
How do you feel about Border Patrol agents?


15 posted on 07/20/2007 10:40:04 AM PDT by Bibman (Don't tread on me!)
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To: muawiyah

I can think of a few things I’d like to see happen to Murtha but I won’t print them. If he is not forced out of office before the next election I have a hunch this might force him to not run again.

I couldn’t agree more with you on the other items. This whole thing was handled so shabby by the NCIS that no charges should have been brought and the NCIS should be the subject of a full Congressional investigation.


16 posted on 07/20/2007 10:42:42 AM PDT by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: jveritas; All

Bump that, jv!

You know, the people I’m really mad at are the ones who hopped up and down when it was revealed that the Pendleton 8 were shackled and treated worse than inmates at Gitmo.

Then it was announced that one of the eight had taken a plea deal. 99% of that support disappeared over night. The likes of Hannity and Michelle Malkin never mentioned the case again.

Well, what did those people expect? What did they think the purpose of shackles and conex boxes were if not to get the weakest link to crack and take a plea so that prosecutors could roll it up from there?

The fickle nature of Pendleton 8 “supporters” was disgusting to witness.


17 posted on 07/20/2007 10:42:44 AM PDT by RedRover (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: RedRover
Bump that, jv! You know, the people I’m really mad at are the ones who hopped up and down when it was revealed that the Pendleton 8 were shackled and treated worse than inmates at Gitmo. Then it was announced that one of the eight had taken a plea deal. 99% of that support disappeared over night. The likes of Hannity and Michelle Malkin never mentioned the case again. Well, what did those people expect? What did they think the purpose of shackles and conex boxes were if not to get the weakest link to crack and take a plea so that prosecutors could roll it up from there? The fickle nature of Pendleton 8 “supporters” was disgusting to witness.

Good points, but Hannity shouldn't surprise. He's got a very short and superficial attention span. How about Savage? Did he stick with them or bail?
18 posted on 07/20/2007 10:48:11 AM PDT by TheLawyerFormerlyKnownAsAl
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To: Bibman
How do you feel about Border Patrol agents?

They should have been fired for obstruction of justice, but not prosecuted for shooting the fleeing felon.

19 posted on 07/20/2007 10:52:50 AM PDT by PAR35
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To: NormsRevenge
I can not believe we are even having trials like this. We are at war, you kill anything that moves. Then you will not have to come back again. Get some balls America, do not bow to the rag head murdering scum!
20 posted on 07/20/2007 10:53:50 AM PDT by Lewite (Praise YAHWEH and Proclaim His Wonderful Name! Islam, the end time Beast-the harlot of Babylon.)
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To: NormsRevenge

Sitting around in air conditioning passing value judgements on ground pounders doing the best they can, jeez.


21 posted on 07/20/2007 10:54:01 AM PDT by Mikey_1962 (The last Americans to allow unchecked immigration...... were Native.)
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To: TheLawyerFormerlyKnownAsAl

I don’t listen to his program, so all I know is what I heard from a director of a defense fund.

At the height of the “Marines in shackles” hysteria, Savage helped raise $50,000. Then, when the plea was announced, that fund faucet was just turned completely off. The fund never got another nickel.

I believe Savage still followed the case (sort of). But he didn’t explain to his listeners what was going on. He seemed to accept the fact that one plea deal meant an admission of guilt for all eight.

I’m not beating up on Savage. He did raise fifty grand. But I thought that it was people on the Left who were victims of short attention spans and superficiality. I had thought those of us on the Right had a little more staying power and brain power.


22 posted on 07/20/2007 10:57:59 AM PDT by RedRover (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: TheLawyerFormerlyKnownAsAl

PS to above: Okay, when I say brain and staying power, maybe not Hannity.


23 posted on 07/20/2007 10:59:33 AM PDT by RedRover (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: RedRover
"A military jury of three officers and six enlisted Marines deliberated for less than an hour before returning their decision.
24 posted on 07/20/2007 11:29:22 AM PDT by verity (Muhammed and Harry Reid are Dirt Bags)
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To: RedRover; jazusamo; Girlene
I didn't realize Savage had done that, I only found him about a month ago and he was railing about Haditha and LtCol. Chessani.

Don't know if it will make it to the page, but I just dropped the following at the NC Times web-story:

If you're willing to believe NCIS, then this was a travesty and Cpl. Trent Thomas should have been incarcerated. Apparently the Court's Jury did not believe NCIS, or they would have done more than discharge him out of the Corps. These cases are all under "Undue Command Influence", and while I believe that some charges may be true, the lack of honesty by NCIS, the politicalization by Murtha and his ilk, and the blind acceptance of the lies of the insurgents and their enablers by the Media have precluded any of these trials or hearings to get to the truth.
Have you heard anything more about a Congressional [cover-up] investigation of either NCIS or Secretary Winters failure to monitor?
25 posted on 07/20/2007 11:32:24 AM PDT by brityank (The more I learn about the Constitution, the more I realise this Government is UNconstitutional !!)
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To: verity

Our jury system can be a wonderful thing.


26 posted on 07/20/2007 11:32:35 AM PDT by RedRover (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: RedRover
The fickle nature of Pendleton 8 “supporters” was disgusting to witness

That is proven with so little posts on this thread. It might be because it's "early" in the day.

27 posted on 07/20/2007 11:32:55 AM PDT by lilycicero (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: PAR35
Let me make a wild guess...You never was in the service..let alone in combat...
28 posted on 07/20/2007 11:41:58 AM PDT by M-cubed (Why is "Greshams Law" a law?)
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To: RedRover
The fickle nature of Pendleton 8 “supporters” was disgusting to witness.

Very sad but very true my FRiend.

29 posted on 07/20/2007 11:48:39 AM PDT by jveritas (God bless our brave troops and President Bush.)
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To: RedRover

Red, sorry about the private post. Pushed the wrong button ...

>> I had thought those of us on the Right had a little more staying power and brain power.

The costs are both financial and psychological both of which can often be managed if the public is willing to help out. Unfortunately, we’re starting out with only half the Country supporting the Military. The numbers dwindle from there.

A lot of this stuff gets back to the heavy financial hand of the prosecutors through a process that clearly needs to be overhauled. There should be some form of limits when the justice involves the Military. They should either cap the prosecutors budgets or provide some sort of matching funds for the defendant.


30 posted on 07/20/2007 11:49:23 AM PDT by Gene Eric
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To: PAR35
The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. If he’s guilty (and he
was convicted) he should have gotten a stiffer sentence.
If he wasn’t guilty, he shouldn’t have been convicted.


That's the way I'd see it.
But I am a never-served civilian and don't know all the nuances
of the UMCJ.
31 posted on 07/20/2007 11:50:47 AM PDT by VOA
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To: brityank

I have seen nothing further to indicate an investigation of the NCIS or a change of Winters views but I can still hope.


32 posted on 07/20/2007 11:52:37 AM PDT by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: PAR35
Obstruction of what?

Do you think Sutton was intending to prosecute the Mexican doper?

What you have is sloppy paperwork by people not otherwise required to file paperwork.

Now USPS might fire a window clerk for coming up short a buck and a half (and I've seen that), but counting empty shell casings is not quite in the same category (which I can explain to you if you have half an hour or so).

This is much more like the situation I encountered about 15 years ago when the US attorney prosecuting a mailer had a Postal Inspector call me and ask what the value was of a postal mailing statement (Form 3602).

They had just gotten to the sentencing phase and this guy had been on trial for stealing blank mailing statements.

Since I was the fellow who certified ordering them for nationwide use (and ran the budget for all the forms the mailing public might ever run into) I knew the price. My response was to ask the PI "How many did he take" and the PI said, "well, it's a whole stack ~ maybe a hundred or so".

That'd cost us maybe 37 cents ~ .

The US attorney handling the prosecution about went out of his nut and threatened mayhem. Calls were precipitated to top management, etc., etc.

Sure some mixed wires there.

The guy walked, but not after spending some serious change defending himself from some idiots. I don't know if he ever went after his expenses, but he should have.

BTW, then, as now, USPS policy has been to give them away like water. Never could figure out how this guy ended up getting prosecuted for taking some.

The Sutton case has elements of the USPS 3602 case ~ right down to the crazy prosecutor and the careless investigator.

I think the business about counting the shell casings has to do with justifying government payment for ammunition used in "official business" (to wit, shooting at perps). The penalty would be for the officer to moxie up some bucks to reimburse the government for its lost ammunition ~ and then most likely only when the guy retires, or leaves for some other LE job.

A federale here can probably take us through the daisy chain of accounting for ammunition. Pretty sure "obstruction of justice" would come about if and only if the LEO attempted to change the official record regarding how many rounds he'd been issued out of company stores.

Hmmm. There's probably some guy who still hasn't closed the books on personal accountability for the ammo lost when the Murrah building went up. Wonder if Sutton's counterpart in that district is going to use the deficiencies to prosecute somebody else someday.

33 posted on 07/20/2007 11:57:24 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

Trying to destroy or hide evidence can be taken as evidence of guilt. They shouldn’t have disturbed the scene, they vioulated regulations, and they should have been fired for that.

As I said earlier, they shouldn’t have been prosecuted for shooting the felon.


34 posted on 07/20/2007 12:20:56 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: M-cubed

Let me guess - you’ve never had to formulate and express a logical arguement.


35 posted on 07/20/2007 12:22:02 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: NormsRevenge

Thomas, a 25-year-old father of two

What kind of future does one have with a dishonorable discharge? How will he support his wife and children?


36 posted on 07/20/2007 12:26:49 PM PDT by kalee (The offenses we give, we write in the dust; Those we take, we write in marble. JHuett)
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To: PAR35
Evidence of guilt? In what? That they had expended ammo and had not yet accounted for it but were trying to get the government to replace it?

There were people there who heard the shots. Everything after that is little more than bean-counting.

37 posted on 07/20/2007 12:28:24 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: PAR35
LMAO!...I was right!....hence your illogical response to me (attack the messenger) and the article...
38 posted on 07/20/2007 12:52:40 PM PDT by M-cubed (Why is "Greshams Law" a law?)
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To: Gene Eric

Well said, Gene. I’ve heard the government spent $43 million to bring Haditha to trial.

Of course, they saved money on Hamdania by breaking the Marines through “unnecessarily strict conditions of confinement”. But, on top of that, the government still must have spent many millions to destroy lance corporals and sergeants.


39 posted on 07/20/2007 1:02:10 PM PDT by RedRover (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: RedRover

“Thomas was held in a brig (including an improvised brig that was a toilet-less conex box out in the sun) for more than a year.”

So the P C Police treat another Marine hero like a dog!!

Man, I’m pissed off!!


40 posted on 07/20/2007 1:25:26 PM PDT by stephenjohnbanker ( Hunter/Thompson/Thompson/Hunter in 08! "Read my lips....No new RINO's" !!)
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To: muawiyah
Everything after that is little more than bean-counting.

That's what I said - they violated the regs.

41 posted on 07/20/2007 1:28:14 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: PAR35
Only if they try to abscond with the ammo though. They didn't do that.

BTW, not every violation of regulations gets you sent to jail ~ just those which apply to paying your postage. You break those rules and you can go to jail for 10 years on each count. They keep an entire wing available for you at Petersburg ~ call it the Postal Wing ~ although it's usually filled to the gunnals with former postal managers.

42 posted on 07/20/2007 1:30:08 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah
not every violation of regulations gets you sent to jail

Being a bit obtuse today, aren't you?

Go back and read my posts - I have said repeatedly that they deserved firing, not a criminal prosecution.

43 posted on 07/20/2007 1:33:53 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: M-cubed

Yes, just returning in kind.


44 posted on 07/20/2007 1:35:19 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: RedRover
"He seemed to accept the fact that one plea deal meant an admission of guilt for all eight."

I don't remember anything like that at all from Savage. After hearing the guilty verdict for this case he still believes that these guys were charged with theses crimes for doing their jobs "too well" and still considers them heroes.

As far as Chessani is concerned, he's given $25,000 of his own money and thanks to him an additional $200,000 + has been donated.

45 posted on 07/20/2007 1:45:03 PM PDT by MrCFdovnh
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To: MrCFdovnh
As far as Chessani is concerned, he's given $25,000 of his own money and thanks to him an additional $200,000 + has been donated.

Are you sure you mean LtCol Chessani? Which Marines was that sum donated to?

46 posted on 07/20/2007 2:09:16 PM PDT by RedRover (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: RedRover; jazusamo; brityank

Awesome news for Cpl. Thomas and his family. Unbelievable for the others who took a plea. I am glad this turned out this way. He has paid a big enough price already. I had the feeling this Investigating Officer was quite fair-minded with some of the judgements he had made on various motions. But the jury panel saw it for what it was. The Cpl. shot an alleged insurgent vs. a kindly, old, and crippled grandfather. In one hour. Right call.


47 posted on 07/20/2007 3:00:19 PM PDT by Girlene
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To: verity

You noticed the same thing I did. I was under the impression that if an enlisted was courts-martialed then the accused could elect to have up to 1/3 of the courts-martial panel be enlisted, so long as they were not a junior rank. This trial had 1/3 officers, 2/3 enlisted, leaves me a little confused.

The old rule of thumb was never elect to have any of the panel enlisted. They would be an E-8 or E-9 and tend to opt for a harsher sentance than an officer.


48 posted on 07/20/2007 3:00:58 PM PDT by ops33 (Retired USAF Senior Master Sergeant)
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To: NormsRevenge; RedRover; jazusamo; brityank; RaceBannon; muawiyah; pissant; PAR35; jveritas; ...
Here's a larger article from North County Times Thomas escapes jail time, given a bad conduct discharge in Hamdania killing

By: MARK WALKER ---- Staff Writer

CAMP PENDLETON ---- A military jury this morning decided a Marine corporal convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping in the shooting death of Iraqi man last year will be given a bad conduct discharge but no prison time.

The jury deliberated for only about an hour before issuing its decision in the case of Cpl. Trent Thomas, a 25-year-old St. Louis native.

"I believe that we did what we needed to do to save Marines' lives," Thomas said after his sentencing hearing on Camp Pendleton. "I was just hoping I could go home to my family. We've been through a lot and now we're going to be together."

On Wednesday, the jury of three officers and six enlisted men deliberated for about five hours before finding Thomas guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping in the death of an Iraqi civilian. But the panel acquitted him of the most serious charge he faced, premeditated murder, which carried a mandatory life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

The prosecution asked the jury to sentence Thomas to 15 years in prison for his role in the April 26, 2006, slaying of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, a 52-year-old retired Iraqi policeman. In the military justice system, a jury and not a judge decides a sentence.

Thomas was the first among the eight Camp Pendleton troops charged in the case to take his case to trial. Five other men pleaded guilty and received sentences ranging from one to eight year in prison.

The lighter sentence for Thomas may be the work of a jury familiar with the pressures of combat, family members of some of the other accused and legal experts said Friday morning. All of the jurors had combat experience.

"The key to the sentence that Trent got is every person (on the jury) had combat experience and understands what happens there," said Deanna Pennington, whose son, Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington, received an eight-year sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping --- the same crimes for which Thomas received no additional jail time.

Pennington said Thomas' sentence did not cause her to second-guess her son's decision to plead guilty.

Pennington's attorney, Carlsbad's David Brahms, called Thomas' decision to go to trial risky and praised the work of his defense team.

"It was a brilliant job by Thomas' attorneys," Brahms said. "Great reward comes with great risk."

Thomas' attorneys had asked that the married father of two young children not serve any time beyond the 14 months he has been in custody since he was arrested in late April 2006 while still in Iraq.

Former Marine attorney and judge Gary Solis said after the sentencing that juries often play the role of softening verdicts --- or toughening them up --- through sentencing.

"Juries have always been society's avenging sword or the means by which society softens the rough edges of the law," Solis said in a telephone interview Friday morning. Now a professor of military law and Washington's Georgetown University, Solis said the sentence sent a message that "we can't have this conduct, so you're gone," but at the same time that the panel was sympathetic to the case.

Thomas and seven Kilo Company squad mates from Camp Pendleton's 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment were charged with the slaying last year.

During his trial, Thomas' attorneys presented expert medical witnesses who said he suffers from a mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder and was predisposed to agree with anything his leaders wanted, even if that meant breaking the military's rules of engagement.

Those who pleaded guilty have testified that Awad was picked at random and that the killing was intended to send a message that the Marines were tired of being attacked.

On Wednesday, Thomas had implored the jury to return a sentence that allowed him to stay in the Marine Corps. The service brought stability and purpose to his life, the veteran of three Iraq tours said.

"I came from nothing," Thomas said, briefly breaking down. "Here, I am at home. It is my all."

Pennington's mother said she was happy with Thomas' sentence.

"We are so pleased for his family and for him," she said. "These boys were just doing their job and what they were told to do.

It was not immediately clear when Thomas will be released from the brig and dismissed from the service.

Trials for the two remaining co-defendants, Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III and Cpl. Marshall Magincalda, will play out in a base courtroom next week.

Thomas said Friday he is praying for the other defendants and will attend weekend rallies outside the base to show his support for Marines still facing charges.
49 posted on 07/20/2007 3:32:52 PM PDT by Girlene
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To: ops33
The MCM prescribes that AT LEAST 1/3 of the members be enlisted.

I still remember the rule of thumb you describe which is why I found the composition astounding.

So much has been written by so many people who have conflicting opinions on this entire issue that I opt to accept the outcome of the Judicial action. Moreover, the reviews and appeals that will follow will allow a fair outcome.

50 posted on 07/20/2007 3:48:57 PM PDT by verity (Muhammed and Harry Reid are Dirt Bags)
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