Sgt. Lawrence Gordon Hutchins, III, Last of “Pendleton 8,” Released from Military Prison

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by Sharon Rondeau

Sgt. Lawrence Gordon Hutchins, III was court-martialed and sentenced to 11 years for the murder of an Iraqi man, but his conviction was overturned when a military appeals court ruled that his constitutional rights were violated in the early stages of his prosecution.

(Jul. 22, 2013) — Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins, III, who was convicted in 2007 of murdering an Iraqi man in the city of Hamdania the year before, has been released from a military prison and reunited with his family.

A July 19 email sent to interested parties from a person close to the case said:

Sgt Hutchins was released from the Miramar Brig earlier this afternoon (Friday, July 19, 2013).  He then checked in to Headquarters and Support Battalion at Camp Pendleton.  His wife, Reyna, told the children that she was going to the store, but instead picked up Sgt Hutchins, and then brought him home to the children as a surprise.  The attached picture is of the reunited family.

Semper Fi,

The photo referred to appears at right.

The  Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled on June 26 that Hutchins’ constitutional rights were violated when he was kept in isolation and interrogated without an attorney present after his arrest in 2006.

Hutchins has been released twice before, and the military has the option to appeal the latest court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.  He spent the first four years of his sentence in Ft. Leavenworth prison.

The appeals court overturned Hutchins’ conviction late last month.  At the time, he had been incarcerated at the  Marine Corps Air Station in a jail known as the Miramar Brig.

A Massachusetts native, Hutchins, his wife and two children are living in  San Diego, and Hutchins will be assigned duties at Camp Pendleton.

Others in Hutchins’ group who were convicted of war crimes did not serve more than 18-month sentences, and all have been released.  Together, the defendants were labeled “the Pendleton 8.”

A Judge Advocate stated that with the overturning of his conviction, Hutchins should receive not only reinstatement in the Marines, but back pay and benefits “worth more than a quarter million dollars.”  The attorney admitted that military members do not enjoy “the same due process” as civilians when charges are brought against them.

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