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Marine’s 11-year war crimes conviction overturned

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A US Marine sentenced to 11 years in prison for the 2006 murder of an Iraqi civilian has had his conviction overturned after a military court ruled his rights had been violated.

Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins, 29, was jailed six years ago after a court martial found him guilty of orchestrating the murder of a 52-year-old Iraqi man in the town of Hamdania.

Hutchins was convicted of leading an eight-strong squad which kidnapped the father of 11 from his home in a night-time raid, frogmarched him to a ditch and shot him.

The group then placed an AK-47 and a shovel beside the dead man’s corpse to make it look as if he had been shot while planting a roadside bomb.

Several soldiers involved in the incident, who received lesser sentences for their roles in the killing, had implicated Hutchins.

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However the US military’s highest court, The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, tossed out Hutchins’s conviction after agreeing his constitutional rights had been violated early in the investigation.

Lawyers for Hutchins argued investigators had erred when the Marine was held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for seven days.

Hutchins later signed a confession on May 19, 2006, following his detention, a submission used to secure his conviction.

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However the military court ruled the confession had been obtained illegally and quashed the verdict.

“We therefore reverse the decision of the CCA (Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals), set aside the findings and the sentence, and return the case to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy,” the court ruled.

“It was an error for the military judge to admit the statement made by Hutchins on May 19, 2006.

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“Notwithstanding the other evidence of Hutchins’s guilt, there is a reasonable likelihood that the statement contributed to the verdict.”

The US Marines must now decide whether to re-try Hutchins or appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

The case has seen various twists and turns since Hutchins’s conviction. His original sentence of 15 years was slashed to 11 years, and the conviction was overturned once before in 2010 but later reinstated.


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Meghan McCain snaps at Sunny Hostin for daring to disagree with her about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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Meghan McCain slammed President Donald Trump for hurling racist abuse at four Democratic congresswomen to heighten divisions in his rival party, and then framed the debate in the exact same way he has.

The conservative co-host on "The View" condemned the president's statements urging the four first-year lawmakers to return to their home countries as racist, and then complained that one of their chiefs of staff had accused moderate Democrats of turning a blind eye to racism.

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Here’s the insidious role Sean Hannity played in derailing Al Franken’s political career

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The U.S. Senate lost one of its most prominent liberals when Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, dogged by sexual harassment allegations, announced his resignation in December 2017. Some of Franken’s defenders believed the Democratic Party was too quick to throw him under the bus; other Democrats stressed that in light of the #MeToo movement, his resignation was absolutely necessary. Franken’s political downfall is the subject of an in-depth report by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, who describes — among many other things — the role that Fox News’ Sean Hannity played in the media firestorm.

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The media got it wrong: There’s no evidence GOP support for Trump improved after his racist outburst

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One of the most popular articles last week involved claims that polls showed Republicans had increased their support of President Trump.  But a closer analysis of the data reveals that any increase in support was within the margin of error.  So the polls couldn’t conclude that GOP support for President Trump had gone up or down.

Polls are tricky creatures.  We either give them near god-like status, or discount them entirely, often depending on whether they show us what we want.

I remember the movie “Machete,” where an opportunistic Texas politician fakes his own shooting.  Within five minutes of that story breaking, the news anchor reported that the politician had drastically improved his standing in the polls.  Surveys don’t work that way.

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