Skip to comments.DEFEND OUR MARINES-THE TRIAL OF SSGT. WUTERICH-DELA CRUZ TAKES THE STAND
Posted on 01/12/2012 9:05:17 PM PST by smoothsailing
by Nathaniel R. Helms | Wednesday, January 11, 2012 | Day Five
Camp Pendleton, Calif. Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz, a battle-rattled combat Marine who made a deal with the government to avoid court martial for murder, testified Wednesday morning that he saw Staff Sergeant Frank D. Wuterich shoot five unarmed Iraqi men after a roadside bomb exploded in Haditha in November 2005.
It is either the fourth or fifth version of his observations since he failed a polygraph, and then elected to accept immunity from prosecution, counting the two versions he presented at trial today.
During a lengthy examination by prosecutor LtCol Sean Sullivan, Dela Cruz told the eight-member panel that the Iraq men didnt appear threatening after inexplicably appearing in a white car next to the Marines four-vehicle convoy seconds before the last Humvee in the column disappeared in a huge explosion. The hidden roadside bomb killed driver LCpl. Miguel T.J. Terrazas and wounded two Marines riding with him.
They were standing there looking around, some with their hands in the air and some behind their heads, Dela Cruz said while demonstrating the decedents movements. One of the Iraqis in the middle dropped, sir. Then they were falling back behind the car. I looked over at Sgt. Wuterich Sergeant Wuterich was kneeling in a firing position, sir. I looked back at the Iraqis and I didnt see [any] more of them.
The Chicago native was granted immunity from prosecution for five counts of murder to testify against Wuterich and three of his squad mates in 2007. He was accused of shooting the same men he now claims were already killed by Wuterich when he ripped a burst of fire across their prostrate torsos and then urinated on the empty skull of one of the dead men.
The emotion took over, he explained.
Plagued with a terrible memory, the inability to articulate his thoughts, and a deer-in-the headlights demeanor, Dela Cruz didnt seem to reinforce Sullivans case.
It was further damaged when Dela Cruz withered under the blazing cross-examination of defense counsel Haytham Faraj, who roasted him like the proverbial marshmallow, the same way he was skewered during a pre-trial inquiry in 2007. (Read about Dela Cruz's Article 32 testimony here.)
Yesterdays testimony revealed the squad of Marines from 3rd Plt. Kilo Co., 3/1 Marines had been briefed the night before to expect coordinated attacks from the burgeoning insurgency in the notoriously dangerous Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana Triad where al Qaeda financed insurgents had virtually taken over much of the region.
In October 2005, the Marine Corps launched Operation Rivergate to break insurgents' strangle hold on the region. Insurgents had killed 55 Marines from an Ohio-based Marine reserve battalion before the Thundering Third was sent to quell the uprising during the regimental sized operation.
The ambush of Route Chestnut was part of the insurgencys attempt to batter the Marines into a more defensive posture. Yesterday, intelligence specialist SSgt Justin Laughner told the court his Human Exploitation Team was sent to Haditha to help 3/1 ferret out the insurgents that the Marines say had planted 22 IEDs on Hadithas roads in the weeks preceding the ambush.
Dela Cruz also reintroduced his claim that Wuterich had told him to claim the Iraqis were running away and had been killed by the Iraqi soldiers that were being transported in the convoy.
Sgt. Wuterich approached me and told me if anyone asked that they were running away and the Iraqi Army shot them those five individuals near the white car, Dela Cruz said. Wuterich fiercely denies the allegation, saying the conversation never happened.
The relative calm of the courtroom was once again broken Wednesday when Faraj and Sullivan argued over whether the word polygraph could be uttered before the panel after Dela Cruz volunteered he had failed a polygraph examination administered by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service while being examined for the murders of the five men.
Polygraph examinations are notoriously inaccurate and inadmissible as evidence of criminal behavior in all U.S. Courts. After he was confronted with the polygraph only then did he say he had lied, Faraj told the judge.
The government objects to mentioning the polygraph at all, Sullivan retorted.
You can get your point across that the witness is the biggest liar in the world without mentioning the polygraph," Jones admonished Faraj.
As soon as the trial resumed Faraj was back on the attack.
When you were urinating in the skull, didnt Sgt Wuterich say knock that off? Faraj inquired.
You made a deal to save yourself? Faraj demanded to know late in his cross-examination.
No sir, Dela Cruz replied. I didnt want to testify, I was ordered to.
Note: Nat Helms is a Contributing Editor to Defend Our Marines. He is a Vietnam veteran, former police officer, war correspondent, and, most recently, author of My Men Are My Heroes: The Brad Kasal Story (Meredith Books, 2007).
Prayers and wishes of justice for SSGT Wuterich. This guy should be commended, not prosecuted. What a travesty. The root of this I still think is that POS Murtha. I wonder if the Marines have excommunicated him yet?
Seriously, I don’t know how the Marines do what they do. I’m proud of my Air Force, but always acknowledge my Marine buds as true badass warriors. Would be nice if they had some better top cover, the fact this farce is going on is the true crime.
Well, we're all caught up now!
Red can post Nat's piece on Salinas and Graviss tomorrow, or we can if he wants us to. :)
I certainly agree with all you’ve said and Murtha is definitely an ex-Marine with all the dishonor that term represents.
Good! Glad to get them on the forum.
>> No sir, Dela Cruz replied. I didnt want to testify, I was ordered to.
He should be found not guilty of ALL charges and released with extreme sympathy for the CRAP our inept and evil government has made him and his marines slug through.But that will not happen the evil empire needs to set an example so the bloody freaking enemy will know beyond any shadow of doubt we are a defeated nation of fools.The ones who should be on trial are the three piece suits that were responsible for the deployment,and the Rules of Order. Our politicians
Make a pack with the devil, then have to live with it. Dela Cruz paid a dear price. Having to lie against his Sargent, after all they had gone through.
Well said, MU. Forfeiting his honor is something he’ll have to live with the rest of his days.
And it probably is eating him up inside.
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