Marine's lawyers seek new judge in war crime case

AP News
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Posted: Oct 31, 2014 4:52 PM

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — Attorneys for a Marine sergeant being retried on a murder charge in a major Iraq war crime case have asked a judge to remove himself, saying he's incapable of being impartial and objective.

The judge, Navy Capt. Andrew Henderson, rejected the claims Thursday during a hearing for Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. The hearing was scheduled to continue Friday but wound up ending late Thursday after defense lawyers argued the points of nine motions they have filed.

Defense lawyers believe the military brass — which has spoken out about the case in the past— is biased against Hutchins.

Henderson said he would take some points under consideration and scheduled another hearing for Dec. 11. The case is scheduled to go to trial in January.

Civilian defense attorney Chris Oprison said the Marine should not be retried in the 2006 killing of an unarmed Iraqi policeman in the village of Hamdania after the military's highest court overturned his murder conviction last year.

Hutchins served more than half of his 11-year sentence before the court found interrogators had violated his rights soon after the killing.

The Marine Corps ordered a retrial for Hutchins last year shortly after the ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces that found his rights were violated by interrogators in 2006 when he was detained in Iraq and held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for a week.

Before his release, Hutchins of Plymouth, Massachusetts, had served seven years in the brig for one of the biggest war crime cases filed against U.S. troops in the war.

The military earlier this year again charged Hutchins with murder and obstruction of justice.

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Julie Watson in San Diego contributed to this report.