U.S. Sergeant convicted of unpremeditated murder in Hamdania case

Updated: 2007-08-03 04:28

CAMP PENDLETON, California- A U.S. Marine Corps squad leader was convicted Thursday of unpremeditated murder in the killing of an Iraqi man in the town of Hamdania during a frustrated search for an insurgent.

Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, 23, had been charged with premeditated murder but premeditation was stricken from the verdict that was returned by a military jury.

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

There is no mandatory minimum sentence for unpremeditated murder. The maximum is life in prison without parole.

Hutchins stood rigidly and stared straight ahead in the silent courtroom as the verdict was read.

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

In another base courtroom, meanwhile, a sentencing hearing was under way for a member of the squad convicted on Wednesday of conspiracy and lesser crimes but acquitted of premeditated murder and kidnapping.

Cpl. Marshall Magincalda, 24, faced up to life in prison, but no mandatory minimum sentence. He was also found guilty of larceny and housebreaking, and cleared of making a false official statement.

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