An investigating officer has recommended that the Marine at the center of the biggest prosecution of US troops in the Iraq war should not stand trial on murder charges, a defense attorney said Thursday.
Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 27, is charged with the unpremeditated murder of 17 Iraqis in Haditha in 2005. The former squad leader allegedly directed his Marines in an assault that left 24 men, women and children dead.
Lt. -Col. Paul Ware recommended that Wuterich should be tried for the lesser offense of negligent homicide in the deaths of five children and two women, said Neal Puckett, Wuterich's attorney.
Ware reviewed evidence against Wuterich in a preliminary hearing known as an Article 32. His recommendation is nonbinding and the final decision about whether Wuterich should stand trial rests with Lt. -Gen. James Mattis, the commanding general overseeing the case.