CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A Marine corporal has agreed to plead guilty to unpremeditated murder in the death of an Iraqi man last year, a newspaper reported Wednesday, citing the corporal's attorney.
Cpl. Trent Thomas was scheduled to enter his guilty plea Thursday, lawyer Victor Kelley told the North County Times in a report published on its Web site Wednesday evening.
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Three other Marines have pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Navy corpsman Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos of Franklin, Wis., pleaded guilty to kidnapping, and conspiracy to kidnap and to make false official statements.
Thomas, 25, was also expected to plead guilty to an assault charge stemming from a separate incident, the newspaper said.
Phone messages left after hours seeking comment from Kelley were not immediately returned.
Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, the Marine Corps' defense coordinator for the western United States, said Thomas would be sentenced in the coming weeks. Terms of his pretrial agreement were not disclosed.
Seven Marines and one Navy corpsman were charged in June with kidnapping, murder and other offenses.
Prosecutors allege the squad kidnapped 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad, took him to a roadside hole and shot him to death. They then placed an AK-47 and shovel by his body to try to make it look like Awad was an insurgent who had been caught in the act of planting a bomb, prosecutors said.
Under thir plea deals, the three Marines and the sailor who pleaded guilty each received prison terms of less than two years.
Another Marine, Cpl. Marshall L. Magincalda, 23, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and other charges. His trial was set for April 8.
Some of the Marines, including Thomas, were also charged with assault in an earlier incident in which prosecutors allege several Iraqi men were abused during questioning. Details of the assaults surfaced during the probe into Awad's death, prosecutors said.
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