U.S. soldiers' lawyers in Iraq murder case ask for new hearing

September 12th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: U.S. soldiers' lawyers in Iraq murder case ask for new hearing

Media: The Associated Press
Date: 12 September 2006

EL PASO, Texas_Lawyers for two U.S. soldiers facing murder charges stemming
from a deadly raid in Iraq have asked for a new preliminary hearing in the
case, saying key witnesses and evidence were improperly excluded the first

Lawyers for Spc. William Hunsaker and Pfc. Corey Clagett last week filed
objections and requests for a new Article 32 hearing, the military
equivalent to a civilian grand jury that determines if there is sufficient
evidence for trial.

Hunsaker, Clagett, Spc. Juston R. Graber and Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard
are accused of illegally shooting three men during a raid in Iraq on May 9.

The soldiers, members of the Fort Campbell, Kentucky-based 3rd Battalion,
187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, claim they were ordered to
"kill all military-age males" on the island.

The soldiers, who have been jailed in Kuwait since their arrests earlier
this year, are expected to stand trial on murder and other charges at Fort

In three objections obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday, Clagett's
Army lawyer, Capt. Sasha Rutizer, argued that defense requests for witnesses
were denied. Rutizer said some witnesses, including the officer who
appointed the lieutenant colonel who earlier this month recommended the
death penalty, were available to testify.

She also objected to the inclusion of some evidence, including an unsworn
statement from Clagett, and the denial of a request for a delay in the case.

Rutizer, who was in transit with the military Tuesday, did not immediately
respond to an e-mail request for comment.

Michael Waddington, Hunsaker's civilian lawyer, argued in an objection that
the government's primary witness, Pfc. Bradley Mason, has a documented
history of lying. Waddington said he was concerned Hunsaker could face the
death penalty based on questionable testimony.

"We have serious concerns about us not being able to see evidence,"
Waddington said Tuesday. "What we are asking is that they reopen the hearing
and allow all this ... evidence in, to allow this Article 32 officer to make
a fair hearing."

Waddington also argued that by denying "vital eyewitness testimony" and
classifying "relevant evidence" before the hearing, the defense couldn't
present its best case at the August Article 32 hearing in Iraq.

According to an order issued in July by Lt. Col. James P. Daniel Jr., the
investigating officer who led the hearing, evidence that is classified and
could not be used in the hearing included an earlier investigation,
documents relating to the rule of engagement given to the soldiers before
the raid outside Samarra, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Baghdad,
and other documents.

The objections have been sent to Army prosecutors, who did not immediately
respond to e-mail requests for comment, and other officials who ordered the

An Army investigator has recommended the soldiers face the death penalty if
convicted. The U.S. military has not executed a soldier since the 1960
hanging of a soldier convicted rape and attempted murder.

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