Thursday, October 26, 2006

First Marine to plead guilty in case involving murder, kidnapping of Iraqi civilian

SAN DIEGO - The first combat tour of a 20-year-old U.S. Marine infantryman ended just four months after it began, when he and seven others were accused of kidnapping and murdering an Iraqi man.

On Thursday, Pfc. John J. Jodka III will appear at his court-martial, where he was expected to plead guilty to lesser charges and tell his account of what happened the night of April 26.

Jodka's attorney Joseph Casas said his client would plead guilty to assault and obstruction of justice in the case, which involves six other Marines and a Navy corpsman.

Jodka was charged with murder, kidnapping, conspiracy, assault and housebreaking. Casas has declined to discuss details. Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 15.

On Oct. 6, the Navy corpsman, Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy in a deal with prosecutors. He testified at his court-martial and agreed to do so at future court proceedings.

In his testimony, Bacos said he and the Marines were searching for a known insurgent who had been captured three times and released. The group approached a house where the insurgent was believed to be hiding, but when someone inside woke up, the Marines instead went to another home and grabbed 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad, Bacos said.........

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