Father Says Marine Will Plead Guilty to Role in Death of Iraqi Civilian in Hamdania

A U.S. Marine will plead guilty next week for his role in the killing of an Iraqi man last April, his father said.

Pfc. John J. Jodka, 20, will plead guilty to assault and obstruction of justice, his father, John Jodka, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday.

The elder Jodka said murder, kidnapping and other charges would be dropped in exchange for the plea, but later said it was premature to discuss details of the arrangement.

Attorney Joseph Casas, who represents Jodka, said he could not disclose details of the negotiations but said the deal was "in the best interests of my client and the best interests of justice and the best interests of the Marine Corps."

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Casas said that Jodka would testify at his court-martial and that the judge was not expected to sentence his client until Nov. 15.

"J.J. will have his chance to talk about his account of what happened in Hamdania," Casas said, adding he would be calling witnesses during the court appearance.

Jodka, who is based at Camp Pendleton in California, is one of seven Marines and one Navy corpsman who were charged in the murder of Hashim Ibrahim Awad in the town of Hamdania, west of Baghdad. As part of a separate plea negotiation, the corpsman recently testified about what he remembers from the incident.

Jodka would be the first Marine to plead guilty in the case.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, a Navy corpsman on patrol with the Marines, pleaded guilty Oct. 6 to kidnapping and conspiracy under a deal with prosecutors. He agreed to testify at his court-martial and during upcoming proceedings about what he witnessed.

Details of Jodka's plea negotiations were not disclosed by order of the judge in the case, Jodka's father said. He added that his son would not be sentenced next week.

Marine Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Sean Gibson said it would be inappropriate to discuss any potential negotiations between the government and the defense.

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