updated 11/21/2006 7:31:58 PM ET 2006-11-22T00:31:58

A Marine has been sentenced to 21 months in custody for his role in the April 26 death of an Iraqi civilian near Hamdania.

Lance Cpl. Jerry Shumate Jr., 21, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with the death of an unarmed Iraqi civilian. He is the fourth serviceman to plead guilty in the case.

Earlier Tuesday, Shumate pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the killing of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, whose body was left with an AK-47 and a shovel to make him look like an insurgent.

Shumate entered his pleas to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice through his civilian attorney, Steve Immel, during court-martial proceedings.

He was expected to testify about the April incident in a deal that called for dismissal of the original charges of murder, kidnapping, conspiracy, larceny, assault and housebreaking, Immel said.

Shumate was part of a squad of seven Marines and a sailor who were charged with kidnapping Awad, 52, in the rural Iraqi town of Hamdania, dragging him to a roadside hole, shooting him and then trying to cover it up.

Two other Marines and the Navy corpsman who was on patrol with the squad earlier pleaded guilty to lesser charges. The longest any of the three was ordered to serve is 21 months.

They testified that the group planned to kidnap and kill a known insurgent and, when they couldn’t get to him, some members of the squad went into a neighboring house and instead kidnapped Awad, who prosecutors have described as a disabled father of 11 and a former police officer.

Prosecutors say squad members tied Awad up, put him in a hole and shot him, then placed an AK-47 in his hands and a shovel in the hole to make it appear he was an insurgent planting explosives. The Pentagon began investigating shortly after Awad was killed in April.

Four senior squad members still face kidnapping and murder charges.

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