updated 6/4/2008 9:07:23 AM ET 2008-06-04T13:07:23

A Marine accused of killing an unarmed detainee in Fallujah, Iraq, heads to court to answer charges of unpremeditated murder and dereliction of duty.

Sgt. Jermaine A. Nelson faces arraignment Wednesday in a case that centers on allegations that a Marine squad shot a group of detainees in Fallujah during some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

It is the second time an arraignment has been scheduled for Nelson, who failed to show the first time because he was jailed by a federal judge for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating a former comrade.

Nelson, 26, is one of three charged in the case.

Faces life imprisonment
The charges allege Nelson "did murder an unknown detained person by means of shooting him with a loaded firearm." Nelson faces life imprisonment if convicted of murder.

He also is accused of being derelict in his duty for failing to follow the rules of engagement, how to treat enemy prisoners of war and how to care for detainees in a combat zone.

Jose Nazario, 27, has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the killing of two captives. Because he completed his military service, the former sergeant faces charges in federal court. He is scheduled to be tried in July.

Prosecutors say that on Nov. 9, 2004, the Marines captured and killed men they believed had been shooting at them.

The investigation began after Ryan Weemer, a former corporal from the squad, took a lie-detector test for a Secret Service job. He described the killings when he was asked whether he had participated in a wrongful death. Weemer is charged with murder and dereliction of duty.

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