Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins, the Marine convicted of unpremeditated murder in 2007, was retried last week and sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge with no additional prison time. Hutchins' 2007 conviction followed the shooting of an unarmed Iraqi civilian in 2006, for which he was previously sentenced to 11 years in military prison.
At Hutchins' most recent trial, prosecutors asked that jurors sentence him to a dishonorable discharge and additional prison time – arguing that the seven years served in prison between 2007 and 2013 after his first trial was not enough for a man who represents a "wholesale abandonment of moral prowess." And when lead prosecutor Maj. Adam Workman implored the jury to impose additional jail time, he asked the jurors to remember that "[w]hen we abandon that moral authority we are no better than our enemy."
Hutchins' wife, Reyna, who was present in the courtroom last week, cried tears of joy upon hearing the jury's verdict, which was returned after only two hours of deliberation.
The trial was an emotional one for more than just Hutchins and his wife, however. In addition to hearing from Hutchins' father, mother and wife, the jury heard testimony from his 10-year-old daughter, Kylie – all asking for leniency. During his daughter's testimony, Hutchins' openly sobbed, placing his head on the defense table.
After the jury returned the verdict, Kylie Hutchins expressed how much she missed her father while he was away in both prison and the brig. Visibly emotional, she tearfully described to reporters how overjoyed she was when she heard the jury's verdict.
Since being released from prison in 2013 to await pretrial, Hutchins and his family have lived at Camp Pendleton in California. Discussing her father's return home in 2013, Kylie recounted, "I remember running as fast as I could and jumping into his arms and saying 'I love you' and he swung me around"; stating further, "we're finally a whole family and not a missing puzzle part."
Displeased by the bad-conduct discharge, Hutchins nonetheless expressed gratitude that the jury elected to sentence him to "time served", eager to return home to family as a free man.
Hutchins' defense attorney plans on appealing the conviction on account of some of the judge's rulings, which he perceived to be "hostile."