Skip to comments.THE TRIAL IS OVER: SSGT WUTERICH PLEADS GUILTY TO ONE COUNT OF NEGLIGENT DERELICTION OF DUTY
Posted on 01/23/2012 7:08:17 PM PST by RedRover
Camp Pendleton, Calif. The General Court Martial of US Marine Corps SSgt Frank D. Wuterich ended Monday morning after a plea deal was reached over the weekend. In return for a guilty plea to one count of Negligent Dereliction of Duty, the six-year ordeal of the 31-year old father of three is finally over.
Negligent dereliction is a lesser included offense detailed in Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Dereliction of Duty. Before the agreement, SSgt Wuterich was charged with Willful Dereliction of Duty, a much more severe offense. In return for his plea, 13 charges, including nine counts of Voluntary Manslaughter, two counts of Aggravated Assault, and two other charges of willful dereliction were dropped.
SSgt Wuterich faced more than 160 years in prison if he had been found guilty and sentenced to the maximum sentence allowed by law on each count. That option was never really on the table although the specter of life in prison wore heavily on everyone associated with the case since SSgt Wuterich and seven other Marines were charged with massacring 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq on Nov. 19, 2005.
The maximum sentence military judge LtCol David Jones can now impose on SSgt Wuterich is three months confinement and loss of two -thirds of his pay while he is confined. The staff sergeant told the judge he earns $3,486 a month. At risk if he is incarcerated are his three little girls, who are otherwise without a resident parent.
SSgt Wuterich admitted he failed to maintain "adequate tactical control" of three Marines he was leading and made a "negligent verbal order." While answering the military judges questions before the deal was done, SSgt Wuterich said comments he made to troops he was leading were negligent and may have led to the "tragic" deaths of the women and children.
"I took a team of Marines to clear houses to the south of the site [where House 1 and House 2 are situated] and did use the words 'shoot first, ask questions later,' or something to that affect prior to clearing or entering there," he said.
The six-year long tragedy was triggered by a specious story in Time magazine in which reporter Tim McGirk accused a squad of Marines from Kilo, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines of running rampant through two houses full of civilians killing everyone they saw in revenge for the IED death of one of their own. McGirk graduated from University of California Berkeley and is now teaching there with money the university obtained from donors to create a fellowship teaching investigative journalism. McGirk was never at Haditha and relied on two known insurgent sympathizers masquerading as human rights workers for his facts.
Twenty-four Iraqis were killed, the Marine Corps has said, including six women and four children as Marines tried to find the gunmen who had been firing on them from houses near the bomb blast. Five Iraqi men died on a road the Marines called Route Chestnut, the only hard-surfaced thoroughfare into the southern part of the city. SSgt Wuterich testified he took a knee and shot them when they tried to flee after they inexplicably showed up seconds before the bomb exploded. Several witnesses testified they were the only Iraqis driving on the road when the blast occurred.
McGirks helpful human rights advocates, one of whom had just been released from Abu Ghraib prison , and the other whom Marine signal-intercept specialists had been monitoring for months, were heard before the attack planning how to record the event for propaganda purposes. Six of the victims died in the first house the four Marines stormed and eight more died in the second they cleared with grenades and rifle fire.
The event was precipitated by the gruesome death of twenty-year old LCpl Miguel T.J. Terrazas, who died when a remotely detonated roadside bomb tore both him and the Humvee he was riding in to pieces. The bomb was buried in the hard-surfaced road and then concealed with fresh cement in plain view of the victims who lived there. Two other Marines were wounded in the attack. The decimated squad was then fired upon by unseen gunman they believed were hiding in and around two houses filled with civilians.
After the initial hearing concluded about 9:00 am PT, SSgt Wuterich shook hands with his attorneys and then turned to hug his parents David and Rosemarie Wuterich, who have been in the court room every day since testimony began two weeks ago.
Lead defense attorney Neal Puckett told LtCol Jones the negotiations that caused a flurry of speculation Wednesday and Thursday never ended but in fact had continued through the weekend. He offered the observation after LtCol Jones told the court that the first round of bargaining fell through before court resumed Friday morning.
"Nothing ever fell through, Puckett corrected the unusually patient judge before the settlement was announced. Id like to get that on the record.
Defend Our Marines has e-mailed McGirk for a comment. As of this writing he has not replied.
Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday morning at 8:30 am PT.
They should have been given Bronze Medals.
Frankly I could not care less what that sack of crap McGirk has to say. He gave aid and comfort to the enemy, took more soldiers out of the fight than most jihadists, and is pleased about it.
He can go to Hell, and my bet (not speaking for God, just my bet) is that he will.
Thanks Red but I won’t listen to that turkey either.
You forgot one thing, Honorably.
When you look at the big picture and the entire timeline, from when that simpleton McGirk’s story appeared in TIME and the perfumed princes of the Pentagon got their panties in a twist, until now, the good guys got 99.99% cleared and the political whores and lefty scum got jack squat.
Meanwhile, the stain left on those Marine Corps leaders who relentlessly went after a combat veteran who lost a buddy in battle will never be scrubbed away. Screw them. Semper fidelis my ass.
A valid point but I already consider him honorable and should have stated it.
At risk if he is incarcerated are his three little girls, who are otherwise without a resident parent.
The judge won’t care about that because the judge knows that he is required to have a Dependent care plan so I kinda think it was a bad idea to use that as a way to get a lesser punishment. Showing that all the other offenders were not punished might be a better way of proving his desire of no punishment or lesser punishment.
You are so right, Jaz. The last six years are punishment enough. I hope the judge understands.
I understand, but I am crying over this. Ssgt. Wuterich DID NOTHING WRONG!!!! AT ALL!!!
Ssgt Wurerich disagrees with you. He even says so in this story.
Yeah, Solzhenitsyn, and his fellow Gulag pals called them "Quarters".
One for the Corps for Wuterice, and zero for those who deserve whipping: his prosecutors.
I’ll pray with you that the Judge shows wisdom tomorrow.
Thanks for your outstanding work on bringing the threads to this forum, RedRover. (somewhat)GOOD NEWS! BTTT for America’s finest!
I just listened to the whole thing, strictly for the schadenfreude. It was probably what you might expect: McGirk’s response is, “How do you explain to the relatives of the Iraqi civilians, including women and children and a man in a wheelchair, why Wuterich is getting off with a slap on the wrist?” McGirk remains to this day a complete asshole. (By the way, he sounds very gay. No joke.)
There were three people interviewed during the 16 minute radio show. The correspondent, Alison St. John, was actually very fair and did a nice job of reporting. The adjunct law professor, Jane Siegel, spent a career in the Marines as a lawyer but in this interview she sounded clueless and offered nothing of substance, IMO.
I did get the impression that the host (no name given) was a scumbag lefty (NPR, surprise, surprise) and it was fun listening to her gnash her teeth near the end.
One thing I did find interesting is that McGirk always pronounces “Haditha” with the accent on the first syllable - “HAH-dith-ah” whereas I have always heard everybody else pronounce it with the accent on the second syllable - “Ha-DEE-tha”.
Also, all of those people, including the alleged former Marine lawyer, seemed hopelessly confused about what the “rules of engagement” were in November 2005. They all agreed that it was always necessary to “positively identify targets” before shooting. They seemed utterly clueless about how Marines were trained to deal with “hostile” houses, etc.
Get real. They always make defendants who plea out allocute. I'm sure his lawyers prepared him well. Wuterich did exactly what he had to do. At this point, it's all about the sentencing.
The Washington Times
January 20, 2006 Friday
BYLINE: By Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
An Army judge advocate general (JAG) temporarily banned Army and Marine Corps snipers from using a highly accurate open-tip bullet.
The JAG, we are told, mistakenly thought the open-tip round was the same as hollow-point ammunition, which is banned. The original open-tip was known as Sierra Match King and broke all records for accuracy in the past 30 years.
The difference between the open-tip and the hollow point is that the open-tip is a design feature that improves accuracy while the hollow point is designed for increasing damage when it hits a target.
About 10 days ago, the Army JAG in Iraq ordered all snipers to stop using the open-tip 175-grain M118LR bullet, claiming, falsely, it was prohibited. Instead of the open-tip, snipers were forced to take M60 machine gun rounds out of belts and use them instead.
The order upset quite a few people here and in Iraq who said the JAG ignored the basic principle of every military lawyer that there is a presumption of legality for all issued weapons or ammunition that are made at the military service level at the time they are acquired.
“She forced snipers to use less accurate ammunition, thereby placing U.S. forces and Iraqi civilians at greater risk,” a Pentagon official said of the JAG, who was not identified by name. “And she incorrectly issued an order. JAGs may advise a commander, but they cannot issue orders.”
After Army lawyers were finally alerted to the JAG’s action, the order was lifted and the JAG was notified that the open-tip was perfectly legal for use by snipers. However, the reversal was followed by the Army officials’ taking retaliation against a sniper who blew the whistle on the bogus order. The sniper lost his job over a security infraction in reporting the JAG.
Wuterich's statement must be seen in light of its being part of a deal.
On the basis of a specious story in Time magazine, which was based on a hearsay account by a couple of enemy combatants, Sgt Wuterich was given a choice of facing either 160 years in prison, or 3 months for “dereliction of duty”.
What this comes down to is that Sgt Wuterich was forced to cop a lesser plea so that some over ambitious JAGS and an unethical reporter off the hook.