updated 6/6/2008 9:22:07 PM ET 2008-06-07T01:22:07

A Marine sniper has been charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting deaths of two civilians in Iraq.

Sgt. John Winnick II also has been charged with aggravated assault against two other civilians and failing to adhere to the military's rules of engagement.

Winnick's attorney, Gary Myers, said a hearing will be held to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to court-martial the Marine.

The charges allege Winnick killed the civilians on June 17, 2007, during combat operations near Lake Tharthar in Iraq's western Anbar province. The charges also allege he fired at two others without first determining whether any of the civilians posed a threat, Myers said.

The lake was once Saddam Hussein's favorite fishing spot. The military believed the fairly isolated area was being used for training and recuperation by insurgents.

Marines spokesman Mike Alvarez confirmed the charges.

Winnick is a member of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, Alvarez said. Winnick was working with the base's 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit at the time of the shootings.

The charges carry a maximum 40-year sentence and a dishonorable discharge.

The case against Winnick, whose hometown and age were not immediately released, comes on the heels of other cases in which Camp Pendleton Marines were charged with wrongdoing in Iraq, including the shooting deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha and the fatal shooting of a civilian in Hamdania.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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