Congressman seeks clemency for Massachusetts Marine convicted of killing Iraqi

Don Conkey

U.S. Rep. William Delahunt is seeking clemency for a Plymouth Marine sentenced to 15 years in military prison for the murder of a civilian in Iraq.

“This kid is a really good kid who thought he was doing the right thing, that he was protecting his fellow Marines,” Delahunt said Wednesday.

A military jury on Aug. 2 found Lawrence Hutchins III guilty of murder, conspiracy, making false statements and larceny in the April 2006 death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad in Hamdania.

Hutchins was acquitted on charges of kidnapping, assault and housebreaking.

In addition to the prison sentence, Hutchins was reduced in rank from sergeant to private and given a dishonorable discharge and a reprimand.

Delahunt, a Democrat from Quincy, has sent Marine Lt. Gen. James Mattis, a commanding officer with jurisdiction in the case, a letter seeking full clemency for Hutchins.

All eight of Hutchins’ squad members were charged in the slaying and either pleaded guilty or were convicted. He is the only one still in jail.

Last week, Mattis granted clemency for three members of the squad, eliminating their remaining jail time. Other squad members had already been released from the brig.

Mattis met with Hutchins last week, Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a Marine spokesman, said Wednesday.

Mattis is still reviewing Hutchins’ situation and clemency is still possible, Gibson said.

It could take as long as several months before Mattis makes a final determination about Hutchins, Gibson said.

Meanwhile, Delahunt said he will keep pushing for Hutchins’ release.

“This war was a mistake from the beginning, and we all share a collective responsibility. We sent this kid there. He is a victim, and his family members are victims,” Delahunt said.

Lawrence Hutchins Jr. of Plymouth, the Marine’s father, said Delahunt “has been a great supporter of our family through this, and we appreciate his making all the effort to help.”

He said his son’s lawyer has advised the family to decline further comment while the clemency request is pending.

Delahunt said that while it is tragic that an Iraqi man was killed, “that is why we have clemency. There are extenuating circumstances, harsh realities of Iraq.

“It is a balancing act that goes on. And we don’t want to compound a tragedy.”

Don Conkey of The Patriot Ledger (Qunicy, Mass.) may be reached at dconkey@ledger.com.