updated 8/27/2008 5:38:16 PM ET 2008-08-27T21:38:16

The defense has rested without calling a single witness at the civilian trial in Southern California of a former Marine charged with killing unarmed detainees in Iraq.

Attorneys for Jose Luis Nazario Jr. said they expect closing arguments to begin later Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Riverside.

The trial is the first time in which a civilian jury will decide whether the alleged actions of a former service member in combat violated the rules of engagement.

Nazario has pleaded not guilty. He has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the killings of Iraqi detainees in Fallujah in November 2004, during some of the fiercest fighting of the Iraq war.

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