Marine re-arraigned in Iraqi killing

A098908345093451.jpgA Marine was arraigned a second time Thursday on charges of kidnapping and murdering an Iraqi civilian after he withdrew a guilty plea last month that had been part of a pretrial agreement.Cpl. Trent D. Thomas, 25, was in a squad of seven Marines and a Navy corpsman accused last year of killing an Iraqi after they were unable to find an insurgent suspected of planting bombs.He was the first to plead guilty to murder, followed by five others who also made pretrial agreements and pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Squad members have testified that Hashim Ibrahim Awad was forced into a hole and shot, and that the squad placed an AK-47 and shovel by his body to make it look as if he were an insurgent planting a bomb.

Even though Thomas gave a detailed account of the killing and said that he fired several rounds at Awad in Hamdania, he told a military judge he was not guilty because he had followed what he believed to be a lawful order.

The corporal blamed the attack on the squad’s leader, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III. Thomas said his sergeant ordered the squad to carry out the killing, and Thomas thought he was acting under the “color of law.”

“I believe I had justification,” Thomas said at the time.

Hutchins, of Plymouth, Mass., is awaiting trial on murder and other charges.

Prosecutors refiled charges against Thomas that now include premeditation, an element that had been removed as part of Thomas’s pretrial agreement.

Thomas, the squad’s second in command from Madison, Ill., did not enter a plea at the arraignment. He could face life in prison. The five others who made deals were sentenced to between one and eight years in prison.

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