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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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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 (
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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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To: Girlene
Thanks for that, Girl. I am just overjoyed for Cpl Thomas and his family!

But there's a disturbing note. Attorney David Brahms sounds resigned that Rob Pennington will be serving eight years in prison.

For the same charge, Pennington got eight years and Thomas is free.

If I were Brahms, I'd be trying to get Gen Mattis to commute Pennington's sentence and not just saying, "que sera, sera".

51 posted on 07/20/2007 4:00:52 PM PDT by RedRover (
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To: RedRover
LtCol Chessani has received 25,000 directly from Savage and the other 200G has been donated to the Haditha case. Not sure exactly where all the money is. I'll check into it.

BTW here's the headline from Savage's website tonight concerning Cpl. Thomas:

"Black Hero Marine "Lynched" by Marine Commanders to Satisfy Progressives"

52 posted on 07/20/2007 4:04:23 PM PDT by MrCFdovnh
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To: NormsRevenge; 1stbn27; 2111USMC; 2nd Bn, 11th Mar; 68 grunt; A.A. Cunningham; ASOC; ...

Unbelievable disparity in sentencing Marines for getting rid of WHO?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

53 posted on 07/20/2007 4:10:43 PM PDT by freema (Marine FRiend, 1stCuz2xRemoved, Mom, Aunt, Sister, Friend, Wife, Daughter, NIECE)
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To: MrCFdovnh

Thanks for the info. I’ll check out the site.

54 posted on 07/20/2007 4:19:59 PM PDT by RedRover (
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To: Girlene

Thanks for posting that piece, Girl. It’s great Cpl Thomas didn’t get any more time.

I see Gary Solis had to get his two cents worth in here too, he did a dance about the possibilities when you go to courts-martial versus plea bargaining. That guy is a regular genius. lol

55 posted on 07/20/2007 4:20:34 PM PDT by jazusamo (
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To: freema
I am just getting more and more mad and I have never been this mad. No one even knows who the f'wad was.

This is the most utter horseshit.,25197,22109346-1702,00.html

In closing arguments, military prosecutor lieutenant colonel John Baker had told the jury that the evidence presented had "proven to you that Corporal Trent D. Thomas is a murderer.''

"Corporal Thomas failed when he contracted to take part in this conspiracy and to cover up and lie,'' Lt-Col Baker said.

"This is a plan to kill somebody in cold blood. They (the squad members) were a mob. Vigilante justice is against the law. He (Thomas) might as well have put a signature on a death warrant.''

56 posted on 07/20/2007 4:24:17 PM PDT by freema (Marine FRiend, 1stCuz2xRemoved, Mom, Aunt, Sister, Friend, Wife, Daughter, NIECE)
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To: RedRover; jazusamo; freema
Yes, Red, it is sad about Pennington. Nothing says Mattis can't reduce the sentence given a little [or LOTS of] prodding.

There's some foreboding news for the next trial, however. Not sure how the IO for Hutchins has ruled. Forensics at center of Haditha hearing

From the article: On Thursday, attorneys for Cpl. Marshall Magincalda, one of the Marines accused in the Hamdania case, lost their bid to argue that the victim was a wanted Iraqi insurgent and not a disabled, retired policeman, as prosecutors have said.

Judge Lt. Col. Eugene Robinson will allow prosecutors to remove the man's name from the charges, effectively blocking defense attorneys from challenging who the victim really was, and whether he was a known insurgent.

Unfortunately, this IO, Robinson, has not been helpful at all to the defense with his motions. They will not be able to argue in the open courtroom that the Iraqi that was killed was a suspected insurgent. Robinson may also have blocked the jury from knowing what the other 5 (now 6) have received for sentences, thus far (not 100% sure). This IO has done everything he can to make this trial an uphill battle for the defense.
57 posted on 07/20/2007 4:45:22 PM PDT by Girlene
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To: RedRover
No problem.

When you check out the site the headline is linked to an LA Times story. He just changed the headline to
something a little more fitting and added a photo of the Cpl.--- Something the LA Times conveniently omitted.

58 posted on 07/20/2007 4:46:49 PM PDT by MrCFdovnh
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To: jazusamo
I have seen nothing further to indicate an investigation of the NCIS or a change of Winters views but I can still hope.

As do I, sir. Thank you jaz.

59 posted on 07/20/2007 4:48:44 PM PDT by brityank (The more I learn about the Constitution, the more I realise this Government is UNconstitutional !!)
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To: RedRover

Finally some justice out of the USMC and Pendleton, and a true case when you say Cpl. Thomas was judged by a jury of his peers=combat vets and not some bloated over medaled over the hill Marine Officer. Congrats to Erika!!


Not sure “what or who” you are referring to when you say “the fickle nature of Pendleton 8 “supporters” was disgusting to witness”, fyi - the die hard supporters are STILL at main Pendleton Gate every Saturday, we are writing the P8 families, sending the guys in the brig money, helping out the families of those P8 who moved to So Cal, and in touch w/so cal media . Just cos folks don’t sit on blogs 24/7 doesn’t mean that they are not supporting the Hamdania and Haditha Marines. As for the big shots like Savage, Hannity et al, what do you expect, they’re mere men and can only do as much as ratings allow.

60 posted on 07/20/2007 5:00:09 PM PDT by Saoirise (God Bless Cpl. Magincalda)
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