updated 9/25/2006 3:48:24 PM ET 2006-09-25T19:48:24
BREAKING NEWS

Three Marines from Camp Pendleton will face courts-martial on murder charges in the death of an Iraqi man in the town of Hamdania, the Marine Corps said Monday.

Gen. James Mattis, the commanding general in the case, said he would not seek the death penalty.

The three were among seven Marines and one Navy corpsman charged with kidnapping and murdering 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad last April. The others face preliminary hearings in coming weeks.

Facing courts-martial are: Pfc. John J. Jodka, Cpl. Marshall L. Magincalda and Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate, who all had preliminary hearings in recent weeks.

Jodka, 20, Magincalda, 23, and Shumate, 21, will also face charges including conspiracy, housebreaking and wrongfully seizing and holding a victim against his will.

According to prosecutors, the Marines and sailor kidnapped Awad on April 26, bound his feet, dragged him from his home and shot him to death in a roadside hole. All have been held in the Camp Pendleton brig since May.

Jodka is accused of firing on Awad. Magincalda is suspected of binding Awad's feet and kidnapping him. Shumate is suspected of firing his M-16 at Awad, then lying to investigators about what had happened.  

The Marines dropped some charges against all three men, including an assault charge against Magincalda and Shumate.

Joseph Casas, an attorney for Jodka, said he was pleased that some charges were dropped.

"(Jodka) is looking forward to getting a fair court-martial and moving this forward as expeditiously as possible," Casas said. "Every day he sits in there in limbo is a day behind bars that he doesn't spend with his family."

Attorneys for Magincalda and Shumate did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment.

At Jodka's hearing, the defense argued vehemently to keep secret "inflammatory" statements made by the private and other Marines to investigators, saying they would prejudice any potential jurors in the event of a trial.

The so-called Article 32 hearings convened for the Marines were similar to preliminary or grand jury hearings in civilian courts. Under military code, the hearings determine whether the defendants face courts martial.

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