Friday, May 30, 2008


CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - A Marine who took pictures of Iraqi men, women and children killed by U.S. forces testified Thursday that he deleted the photos under an officer's orders and later lied repeatedly to investigators about what happened to the images.

By CHELSEA J. CARTER, Associated Press Writer Thu May 29, 9:08 PM ET

The testimony by Staff Sgt. Justin Laughner came during the court-martial of 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson, who is accused of helping cover up the Nov. 19, 2005, killings in Haditha, Iraq.

Laughner said he took the photos of the bodies hours after a roadside bomb hit a convoy, killing the driver of a Humvee and wounding two Marines.

After the bombing, investigators say, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich and a squad member shot five men by a car at the scene. Wuterich then allegedly ordered his men into several houses, where they cleared rooms with grenades and gunfire, killing the Iraqis. In all, 24 men, women and children died.

Laughner testified that Grayson told him to delete the photos. He admitted during questioning by a defense attorney that he lied to five different investigators about what happened to the photographs.

"I wasn't truthful with them because I knew I had already deleted them," he said. "I felt that I had done something wrong."

Laughner also said during cross-examination that he did not know he had been violating military law when he stored photos of the dead Iraqis on his personal laptop computer.

Four enlisted Marines were initially charged with murder in the case and four officers were charged with failing to investigate the deaths. Charges were dropped against five of the Marines but remain against Grayson, Wuterich and Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani.

All three say they are innocent. Grayson, of Springboro, Ohio, is the first to go to trial.
Grayson was not present at the scene of the killings, but is accused of obstruction of justice among other charges for allegedly ordering Laughner to delete the photographs.

Click on link above for complete story of Marine testimony.

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