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Marine to Plead Guilty in Killing of Iraqi Man

October 21, 2006|Tony Perry | Times Staff Writer

ENCINITAS, Calif. — Marine Pfc. John Jodka III will become the second defendant accused in the shooting death of an unarmed Iraqi man in April to plead guilty in the case, Jodka's father said Friday night.

Jodka is one of eight troops with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, who were charged with murder and kidnapping in the shooting death of a disabled 52-year-old Iraqi in Hamandiya, west of Baghdad. The eight were accused of dragging Hashim Ibrahim Awad, whom they suspected of having ties to the insurgency, from his home, tying his hands and feet and shooting him to death.

Under the plea arrangement, Jodka will plead guilty to lesser charges.

"I remain as proud of my son as the day he enlisted in the Marine Corps," said John Jodka II, who lives in Encinitas. "He is my hero."

In the original indictment, Jodka, who was 19 and on his first tour in Iraq, was listed among the five Marines accused of shooting Awad. He was the youngest and lowest-ranking.

Navy corpsman Melson Bacos, who was a comrade of the troops in the 5th Regiment's Kilo Company, has pleaded guilty to lesser charges and agreed to testify against the Marines. He was sentenced to a year in the brig; with credit for time served, Bacos is expected to be free within five months.

Jodka, who is expected to enter his plea Thursday, is a graduate of San Dieguito Academy, a highly competitive Encinitas high school, and he attended UC Riverside before enlisting.

Jodka was moved from the brig at Camp Pendleton to the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station brig two weeks ago to separate him from other defendants.

Other attorneys in the case have asserted that their clients will not plea-bargain. Victor Kelley said his client, Cpl. Trent D. Thomas, would "never testify against his brothers."

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