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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Marine Accused of Killing Iraqi Will Not Face Death

He is one of eight service members who could be court-martialed in the kidnapping and slaying.

September 13, 2006|Tony Perry | Times Staff Writer

CAMP PENDLETON — Marine Corps prosecutors Tuesday dropped a request for the death penalty in the case of a Marine accused of kidnapping and killing an Iraqi man in April.

The decision came at the preliminary hearing for Lance Cpl. Jerry Shumate Jr., one of eight troops accused in the April 26 death in Hamandiya, west of Baghdad. A similar decision was made at a hearing two weeks ago for Pfc. John Jodka.

The officer hearing the Shumate case will make a recommendation to Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis Jr. about whether to convene a court-martial, drop the charges, or refer it to an administrative hearing.

Prosecutors said that sworn statements given by Shumate to Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents in May were key to their case, but did not characterize the statements as confessions. An agent testified that Shumate cried during their interview.

Under an agreement between prosecutors and defense lawyers, none of the evidence was discussed at the brief hearing Tuesday. Defense lawyer Steven Immel had asked that the hearing be closed to the public, but hearing officer Col. Robert Chester declined.

Shumate's father, Jerry Shumate Sr., attended the hearing wearing a T-shirt that read, "My Son Is One of the Few, the Proud, a Marine."

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