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November 16th, 2006 - Marine Apologizes For Iraqi Civilianís Death
Lance Cpl. Tyler Jackson Pleads Guilty
Posted: 10:53 am PST November 16, 2006
Oceanside, Calif. - A 23-year-old Marine awaiting sentencing in a war crimes case apologized Thursday to the family of an Iraqi citizen killed April 26 and said he wished he'd had the courage to stop it.
Lance Cpl. Tyler Jackson pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy and aggravated assault in connection with the death of 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad near Hamdania.
The Marine faces up to 15 years in custody, a dishonorable discharge and reduction to the lowest military rank.
During the court-martial, Judge Joseph Lisiecki heard testimony from Jackson, his parents and a fellow Marine who served with him.
"I wish I'd had the courage to prevent his death," Jackson told the military judge.
Jackson said several times that he wished he could take back what happened that day.
The judge said he would review all the evidence before deciding on a sentence for Jackson.
In all, seven Marines and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Melson Bacos were charged with murder, kidnapping and other charges in connection with Awad's death.
Pfc. John Jodka, 20, of Encinitas, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in custody. He will be able to avoid a dishonorable discharge from the military if he continues to cooperate with the government in its investigation of Awad's death.
Bacos pleaded guilty Oct. 6 to kidnapping, conspiracy to kidnap and making false official statements and was sentenced to one year in the brig.
Lance Cpl. Jerry Shumate Jr. is expected to plead guilty next week.
Squad leader Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III and three other Marines, Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington, Cpl. Trent D. Thomas and Cpl. Marshall Magincalda, are also charged in connection with Awad's death.
Bacos testified earlier that the squad originally targeted a suspected terrorist who lived next door to Awad but chose Awad instead when the original plan was foiled by the other man's family.
Jackson's version of events differed slightly. He told a judge at an earlier hearing that Hutchins thought Awad was responsible for setting up an explosive device that killed several members of their platoon and thought there should be a plan to get back at him.
Everyone agreed, and on April 26, several defendants headed toward a village, found Awad and escorted him to an existing explosion hole, Jackson said.
Hutchins reported to his patrol base that the squad had spotted a man digging a hole for an explosive device, Jackson said. He said the group then fired on the victim.
Jackson said he fired his rounds above Awad's head. Awad got up and attempted to move but was shot several more times, the Marine said.
Jackson said that he, Shumate and Jodka then took Awad's body to an Iraqi police station. They reported they'd all seen Awad digging on the side of the road and that their actions were a "lawful military engagement," he said.
Copyright 2006 by City Wire. All rights reserved.
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