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Staff Sgt. Frank G. Wuterich appeared before a military judge at Camp Pendleton today and pleaded guilty to one count of negligent dereliction of duty for his involvement in the death of Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq, on Nov. 19, 2005.
Wuterich was then seen shaking hands with his defense lawyers, hugging his family and greeting supporters before going into the defense chamber.
The military judge, Lt. Col. David Jones, will now determine sentencing for Wuterich. The judge’s sentencing will go to Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commander of the Marine Corps Forces Central Command, for final adjudication.
Wuterich faces up to three months in confinement, reduction to the lowest grade of military pay and two-thirds pay while in confinement.
The defense and trial counsel had initiated discussions to resolve the case. The talks resulted in Wuterich and his attorneys submitting a stipulation of fact and pre-trial agreement in which the staff sergeant admitted that he was derelict in the performance of his duty.
The pre-trial agreement was signed once the plea entered by Wuterich clearly showed that he had accepted responsibility for his actions and will now be held accountable for those actions.
Wuterich had been facing nine counts of voluntary manslaughter, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and three counts of dereliction of duty.
Wuterich was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division at the time of the incident.
— Editor Daniel Woolfolk contributed to this report. Information on charges and the process taken from a Marine Corps news release.
Editor's note: An earlier version had an incorrect reduction in pay. It has been updated.
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