Three Camp Pendleton Marines face courts-martial in Iraqi’s death
SAN DIEGO – Three Camp Pendleton Marines will face courts-martial on murder and kidnapping charges in the killing of an Iraqi man in the town Hamdania, the Marine Corps said Monday, setting the stage for the latest trial of U.S. troops accused of wartime abuses. The three are the first among seven Marines and one Navy corpsman charged in the death to be referred to trial. Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the commanding general in the case, said he would not seek the death penalty for the three. Facing courts-martial are: Pfc. John J. Jodka, Cpl. Marshall L. Magincalda and Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate, who had preliminary hearings in recent weeks. The other five face preliminary hearings in coming weeks. All eight have been in the Camp Pendleton brig since May. Jodka, 20, Magincalda, 23, and Shumate, 21, will also face charges including conspiracy, housebreaking and wrongfully seizing and holding a victim against his will. Joseph Casas, an attorney for Jodka, said he was pleased the case was progressing. “(Jodka) is looking forward to getting a fair court martial and moving this forward as expeditiously as possible,” Casas said. “Every day he sits in there in limbo is a day behind bars that he doesn’t spend with his family.” Attorneys for Magincalda and Shumate did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment. The Marine Corps dropped some charges against the three men, including an assault charge against Magincalda and Shumate. The Marines dismissed charges against Jodka for making a false official statement, larceny and wrongfully endeavoring to impede an investigation. Jodka is accused of firing his M-249 squad automatic weapon at Awad. Magincalda is suspected of binding Awad’s feet and kidnapping him. Shumate is suspected of firing his M-16 at Awad, then lying to investigators about what had happened. Marine spokesman Maj. Jeff Nyhart said the courts-martial of the three men would not influence whether the other five troops are ordered to stand trial. “Each case is separate and based on its own merits,” Nyhart said. Under military code, the decision to refer charges to courts-martial rests with a commanding general, who makes his decision after reviewing recommendations from officers who oversaw preliminary hearings.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John PhillipsThe troops are accused of kidnapping and murdering 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad on April 26. Investigators say troops bound his feet, dragged him from his home and shot him to death in a roadside hole. No dates were set for the courts-martial. Since the start of the Iraq war in 2003, at least 14 members of the U.S. military have been convicted in connection with the deaths of Iraqis. Two received sentences of up to life in prison, while most others were given little or no jail time. At preliminary hearings for Jodka, Magincalda and Shumate, prosecutors presented what appears to be the crux of their case: allegedly incriminating statements that troops made to investigators. At Shumate’s hearing, three investigators testified that they followed the rules when they took statements. Defense attorneys have said they plan to challenge the validity of the statements, and argue that investigators used heavy-handed techniques.