Marines May Drop Massacre Murder Charges

Negligence charge eyed for sarge who led fatal attack on 24 Iraqis
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2007 3:45 AM CDT
A U.S. soldier stands guard with an Iraqi national policeman, in background, during a joint operation in the Khadra neighborhood of western Baghdad, Iraq on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A Marine whose squad killed 24 Iraqi men, women and children in the so-called Haditha Massacre may not face murder charges. An investigating officer has recommended that Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich should be tried instead for negligent homicide, which carries a maximum three-year penalty. The Iraqis were killed when Marines threw grenades and fired on unarmed civilians in their homes following a roadside bombing of a Marine convoy.

Wuterich said he will "always mourn the unfortunate deaths of the innocent Iraqis who were killed during our response to that attack." But "based on the information I had at the time, I made the best decisions I could have at that time," he said at one hearing. "Engaging was the only choice."