USA Today : Marine gets time served in Iraqi's death

Friday, August 03, 2007

Marine gets time served in Iraqi's death

August 3, 2007

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — A jury sentenced a Marine corporal Friday to time served and reduced his rank to private for conspiring to murder an Iraqi civilian during a frustrated search for an insurgent.

Cpl. Marshall Magincalda, 24, has already served 448 days in custody and was to be freed Friday.

He was acquitted of murder but also found guilty of larceny and housebreaking, and cleared of making a false official statement.

After the verdict was announced, Magincalda's attorney Joseph Low smiled and patted his client on the back.

Outside the courtroom, Magincalda's mother and grandmother wept as they embraced.

"We can take him home. God answered our prayers," his grandmother Wynoma Leesch said.

The Iraqi civilian was pulled from his home in April 2006 and shot in a hole, with an AK-47 and shovel placed nearby to make him look like an insurgent planting a bomb, according to the prosecution.

Prosecutors initially identified the victim as Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52. The name, however, was dropped from charge sheets.

In another Camp Pendleton courtroom, a jury continued deliberating over the sentencing of Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III.

On Thursday, Hutchins became the first and only member of the eight-member squad to be convicted of murder in the killing. He had been charged with premeditated murder but the jury struck the premeditation element, meaning Hutchins no longer faces a mandatory life sentence.

Testimony from several of his comrades pointed to him as being the mastermind of the plot to kidnap and kill the suspected insurgent.

Hutchins, of Plymouth, Mass., was also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, making a false official statement and larceny. He was acquitted of kidnapping, assault and housebreaking.

Sentencing options range from no punishment and no discharge, to life in prison without parole and a dishonorable discharge.

All eight members of the squad were initially charged with murder and kidnapping.

Four lower-ranking Marines and a Navy corpsman cut deals with prosecutors in exchange for their testimony and received sentences ranging from one to eight years in prison.

A jury last month acquitted another corporal of murder but convicted him of conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping. According to testimony, Cpl. Trent Thomas of Madison, Ill., had greater involvement in the killing than Magincalda, of Manteca. Thomas was sentenced to a reduction in rank and a bad-conduct discharge but no prison time.

The squad was pulled from the battlefield after the slaying in Hamdania.

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