Skip to comments.Puckett and Faraj Press Statement on Sentence of SSgt Wuterich (Trial Defense Attorneys)
Posted on 01/24/2012 5:15:41 PM PST by smoothsailing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 24, 2012, 3:50PM, Camp Pendleton CA
We wish to first acknowledge the tragic loss of civilian life in Haditha on November 19, 2005, and express our condolences to the families who lost loved ones that day.
The military justice system has fairly dealt with SSgt Wuterichs case by delivering a measure of justice. Today, SSgt Wuterich stands vindicated by the very system that has held him captive for over 6 years.
This case began with sadness for the loss of life and ended with rage over the injustice of fabricated evidence by Naval Criminal Investigative Service interrogators who, through eight to fourteen hour interrogations of Marines, suborned perjury and encouraged lies rather than truth.
The false narratives sponsored by the government through immunized witnesses, who were members of Staff Sergeant Wuterichs squad and participated in the house clearing on November 19, were manipulated into changing their initial statements about what happened that day and about Staff Sergeant Wuterichs actions. The statements and testimony of then Private First Class Humberto Mendoza directly contradicted that of then Lance Corporal Stephen Tatum with regard to Staff Sergeant Wuterich. And both admitted to lying under oath. PFC Mendoza was immunized so that he would testify in the court-martial of LCpl Tatum. On the day of LCpl Tatums trial, he received immunity and had charges against him dropped with prejudice even though PFC Mendoza placed him (Tatum) in the back bedroom of House #2. He was immunized, specifically, to testify against Staff Sergeant Wuterich. But Mendoza and Tatum gave substantially contradictory accounts of what happened on November 19 in House #2. If Tatum were to be believed, Mendoza would have to be disbelieved. Likewise, if Mendoza were to be believed, Tatum would have to be disbelieved. With respect to the white car, the government chose to believe the statements and testimony of Sgt Dela Cruz who failed a polygraph and admitted to lying under oath in every statement he provided the government. Yet, the Government persisted in using his false testimony against SSgt Wuterich for the killings at the white car when their own forensic scene reconstructionists concluded that that most of the men at the white car were killed from Sgt Dela Cruz firing position.
At worst SSgt Wuterich may have failed in keeping better control of his squad, a negligent dereliction of duty. But that failure to control must be considered in the context of the combat that took place that day. The truth of this case is complex with many facts and nuances that must be included in retelling an accurate narrative of the events in Haditha.
SSgt Wuterich did not choose to be in Haditha. He did not choose the location of the IED or where the Small Arms Fire came from. The Iraqi families, likewise, did not ask for the Marines to be there that day either. But the Marines did not send themselves there. They were sent by a nation that must take responsibility for the decisions it makes rather than expect that burden to be carried by the young men sent to fight its wars.
In that combat environment, with the training that the Marines had undergone, the enemy threat that was briefed and the rules of engagement that existed, any one of us would have made the decisions SSgt Wuterich had made under the same circumstances.
SSgt Wuterich could not have known or reasonably believed that a house from where he was taking fire would have contained civilians. Those fires and the expectation that the houses contained a hostile threat led him to warn his men not to hesitate to engage for fear that he would lose more of them. Those instructions resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians. He never intended to cause harm to innocent civilians.
The same decisions would not have been questioned and this trial would never have taken place if those houses were empty of civilians or if the insurgents who set off the IED or fired on the Marines from the vicinity of those houses, one of which clearly had Ak-47 shells, had remained in or near the houses. And perhaps, if the civilians deaths had been reported accurately on November 20, 2005, there would have been no suspicion of a Marine Corps cover-up.
SSgt Wuterich, a devoted single father of three young girls, did his best under impossibly difficult circumstances. The false narrative, woven by overly aggressive NCIS interrogators and false media accounts of a rampage and massacre, failed to give him the benefit of doubt. That false narrative collapsed under the weight of the truth in a courtroom over the past three weeks.
We believe justice prevailed for SSgt Wuterich, and in turn, he wishes it was within his power to impart that same measure of justice to the families of the victims of Haditha.
The Attorneys for SSgt Wuterich
Haytham Faraj, Esq. and Neal A. Puckett, Esq.
Please ping the list, Jaz.
"SSgt Wuterich did not choose to be in Haditha. He did not choose the location of the IED or where the Small Arms Fire came from.
The Iraqi families, likewise, did not ask for the Marines to be there that day either. But the Marines did not send themselves there.
They were sent by a nation that must take responsibility for the decisions it makes rather than expect that burden to be carried by the young men sent to fight its wars."
Given his attorneys’ narrative, why did he plead guilty? He’s getting screwed big time.
My guess would be that he suspected that the chances of getting justice were not very good.
Do we know if he is going to be dishonorably discharged? Will he loose everything?
It is a truthful saying that SSgt Wuterich never received the presumption of innocense until proven guilty.
From the outset he was assumed guilty by everyone from his Marine Corps chain of command all the way to Congress and then to the Department of Defense.
The Unlawful Command Influence exerted in his prosecution should lead to a revolution in protection for troops accused of battlefield crimes.
I would like to see a full transcript of SSGT Wuterich’s statement, but this much has been reported:
Wuterich acknowledged that he didn’t maintain “adequate tactical control” of troops he was leading and made a “negligent verbal order.”
In statements to the judge, Wuterich said comments he made to Marines he was leading were negligent and may have led to the “tragic” events.
This case was UCI in spades, Chaplain.
UNLAWFUL COMMAND INFLUENCE
Unlawful Command Influence (UCI) has frequently been called the “mortal enemy of military justice.” UCI occurs when senior personnel, wittingly or unwittingly, have acted to influence court members, witnesses, or others participating in military justice cases. Such unlawful influence not only jeopardizes the validity of the judicial process, it undermines the morale of military members, their respect for the chain of command, and public confidence in the military.
We don't. It's a seperate issue, and I'm not aware of any action on discharge, or type, at this time.
The truth is that someone needed to be railroaded, smooth, and the short straw fell on a 25 year old, first time in combat, buck sergeant who had just had a comrade killed by an IED.
The next kids’ story about bullies should tell the tale of Uncle Sam mercilessly beating a young man from Connecticut.
“Wuterich grew up in Meriden, Connecticut, and graduated from Orville H. Platt High School in 1998. He was well known as an honor student, jazz trumpet player, and drama club president. In his senior year of high school Wuterich enlisted in the Marine Corps”
In that position Wuterich would be railroaded, cheated out of years of his life, have his marriage stolen from him, and suffer the indignity of being portrayed as a mass murderer, a charge proven not to be true.
OK, Frank. So you weren’t a super hero and didn’t keep your guys in line as well as the brass expected. Mea Culpa. By and large you brought your guys back alive. That speaks to me. Stop by the house anytime. You are always welcome. I’m not hard to find. Bring your daughters. Good people are hard to find these days.
Because his attorney's narrative is being given after the case has been concluded, and judgement rendered.
While the case was still open, and the plea deal was still offered, the court did not accept that narrative. What the court accepted was... left in limbo... depending on what SSgt Wuterich "chose" to plead.
The law pretends not only to power - but to reality itself. If SSgt Wuterich chose to stick to the literal truth, the court would choose to believe literal lies, and then through it's power, declare the truth to be lies, and it's lies to be truth, and use that ruling to utterly, ocmpletely and absolutely destroy his life.
On the other hand, if SSgt Wuterich "chose" to accept a "small lie" as the truth, then the court would also accept that "small lie" as the truth, and rule it to be the truth, and then, through it's supreme generosity, not use it's absolute power to utterly destroy his life.
And this is the endgame, remember, after threatening to absolutely destroy his life, and infamously slandering him, for six years.
So now that that's concluded, his attorney can assert, against the ruling of the court (but with a certain amount of political risk) that he told a "small lie" to save himself, but that it was still a lie because he was completely innocent.
THIS is what passes for justice.
It is now our duty, as citizens, to not only remember how twisted our system of justice has become, but to act on the knowledge.
From the outset he was assumed guilty by everyone from his Marine Corps chain of command all the way to Congress and then to the Department of Defense.>>
The only one with any honor in this farce is the good S/Sgt and his men.The Marine Corps, politicians, and ALL the media were despicable from the onset. Semper Fidelis used to mean something but not anymore except for the enlisted up to field grade officers. Chief Marine Gunner, USMC, (ret)
Based on the posts you, smooth, and Red have posted over the past few days, it at least appears the worst they can do to him is keep him under lock for three months and cut his pay some thirty percent over that time period. It is what happens afterward. Will he stay in the Marine Corps., or elect an out if they give him permission to do so.
In the end, Wuterich's sentence amounts to a reduction in rank -- to private -- and a pay cut.
A final adjudication will be made by Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commander of Marine Corps Forces Central Command, but he cannot increase Tuesday's sentence, a Marine spokesman said.
The commander can reduce it, though, the spokesman said. LA Times
After the hearing, a sentencing recommendation will be made by the judge, Lt. Col. David Jones;It sounds as if the sentence is up to the judges interpretation.
the final decision about whether Wuterich will receive jail time is up to Lt. Col. Thomas Waldhauser, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Forces Central Command. CNN
At any rate the man and his family have my continued prayers.
I also thank his legal staff for not bending.
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