US Marine arraigned second time after dropping guilty plea

[JURIST] US Marine Corps Cpl. Trent D. Thomas [advocacy website] was arraigned [press release] Thursday on charges of murder and kidnapping related to the April 2006 slaying of an Iraqi civilian in Hamdania [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive], but declined to enter a plea. Thomas was arraigned for the killing previously after he pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to unpremeditated murder, but last month he withdrew his guilty plea [JURIST report]. Prosecutors have amended the most recent charges to include premeditation. Thomas claims that he acted under "color of law" and that he followed the orders of his superior, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, who also faces several charges [JURIST report], including murder. Allegedly, the murder of civilian Hashim Ibrahim Awad [Wikipedia profile] was arranged to appear as if he were planting an explosive; the soldiers left his body by the side of the road with a shovel and AK-47 to make him look like an insurgent.

Last month, USMC Lance Cpl. Robert B. Pennington [advocacy website] was sentenced [JURIST report] to eight years in military prison for his role in Awad's death. US Marine Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr., Marine Pfc. John J. Jodka, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, [JURIST reports] and Marine Lance Cpl. Tyler Jackson [advocacy website; JURIST report] have also pleaded guilty in exchange for their testimony in the case, in which seven Marines and one Navy corpsman were originally charged [JURIST report]. Thomas is also charged with assault in an unrelated incident. AP has more.

 

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