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Marine demoted, avoids jail time

October 01, 2009|Tony Perry

A Marine sergeant was demoted to lance corporal Wednesday and given a 150-day suspended jail sentence for his role in the killing of unarmed Iraqi prisoners.

In exchange for a guilty plea to dereliction of duty, prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Jermaine Nelson, 28.

Nelson told the court-martial judge at Camp Pendleton that he killed a prisoner during the battle for Fallouja in November 2004 on the orders of his squad leader. A psychiatrist testified that Nelson now suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Prosecutors alleged that the three Marines killed four prisoners rather than take the time to process them. The squad leader, former Sgt. Jose Nazario, was acquitted in federal court. Sgt. Ryan Weemer was acquitted at a court-martial in the same incident.

-- Tony Perry

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