updated 8/11/2007 2:12:59 AM ET 2007-08-11T06:12:59

A Marine who was sentenced to eight years in military prison in the case of a slain Iraqi civilian was released Friday.

Pvt. Robert B. Pennington was sentenced in February in a plea deal that included a reduction in rank from lance corporal and a dishonorable discharge. He pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy; murder and other charges were dismissed.

The Iraqi civilian was pulled from his Hamdania home and shot in April 2006. An AK-47 and shovel were placed nearby to make him look like an insurgent planting a bomb, according to the prosecution.

Cutting deals
All eight members of the squad were initially charged with murder and kidnapping. Five cut deals with prosecutors in exchange for testimony and received sentences ranging from one to eight years in prison.

Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who is overseeing the case, has reduced the sentences of Pennington and others to ensure fair treatment, the Marines said. He has considered the defendants’ ages, military experience, rank and involvement in the death.

Mattis decided to release Pennington, of Mukilteo, Wash., from Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar after meeting with him Friday, the Marines said.

An attorney for Pennington did not return a message seeking comment.

All but one of the eight defendants remains in prison: Pvt. Lawrence Hutchins III, who was the only one convicted of murder. He was sentenced last week to 15 years.

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