View Full Version : The Parents Think THIS Helps?

07-16-2007, 06:24 PM
I wouldn't think so, based on his 'tales' of Iraq, I'd probably find him guilty:


Two portraits of local Marine awaiting trial
Sergeant accused of murder

By Anna Badkhen, Globe Staff | July 15, 2007

PLYMOUTH -- They might as well be talking about two different men.

The friends and family of Sergeant Lawrence G. Hutchins III , a 23-year-old Marine squad leader from Plymouth, portray him as a caring friend, a deferential son, and a dedicated Marine, the type of guy who always held the car door open for his mother and who spent his entire first paycheck on a Father's Day gift of a gas grill.

Six members of his squad have testified under oath that he is a killer who masterminded and led the kidnapping and execution of an Iraqi civilian and afterward, according to one testimony, told his squad members: "Congratulations. We just got away with murder, gents."

Hutchins's parents, Kathleen and Lawrence Hutchins Jr., maintain his innocence. But they also say the war had transformed their son from a friendly boy who loved to ride his bicycle at dawn on streets winding along White Horse Beach to buy milk for his mother into a young man haunted by war even in his sleep.

"He wakes up screaming," said Kathleen Hutchins.

As military experts, specialists on combat trauma, and retired Marines familiar with the case await a court-martial scheduled to begin July 24 at Camp Pendleton to determine whether Hutchins is guilty, they say that the extreme duress of war can impel a person to commit atrocities.

Continuous exposure to violence in a war that has no front lines and the constant fear of attacks by an elusive enemy who wears no uniform can cause troops to act violently even in such a well-trained military as that of the United States, specialists on combat trauma say. Although people with prior history of criminal behavior or behavioral problems are more inclined to breach military discipline, the extreme stress of war sometimes can push people who do not have a history of violent behavior to lose self-control.

"War brings out the best and the beast in people," said Raymond Scurfield , a sociologist who served as an Army social worker in Vietnam and who has written scientific books about psychological effects of war on veterans in Vietnam and Iraq. "Sometimes it brings out both."

Marine expects acquittal
In a telephone interview last week from jail at Camp Pendleton, where he is awaiting trial, Hutchins sounded upbeat and said he was expecting to be acquitted.

"I think it's gonna go well," Hutchins, who says he is innocent, said about the pending court-martial. Hutchins faces charges that include murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy in the April 26, 2006, death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad , 52, a retired policeman in the Iraqi village of Hamdaniya. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

In court testimony, six squad members said Hutchins had hatched a plan to catch and shoot Saleh Gowad , a suspected terrorist. Frustrated that they could not find Gowad during a predawn raid, Hutchins allegedly ordered his troops to take Awad, a father of 11 living in the same village. According to the testimony, Hutchins then ordered the Marines to bind Awad and take him to a bomb crater half a mile away, where Hutchins and other squad members shot the Iraqi several times in the chest and head. Then they placed a Kalashnikov rifle in Awad's hands and a shovel in the crater to make it appear that Awad was an insurgent planting explosives.

After the execution, Hutchins congratulated fellow squad members with getting away with murder, testified Navy Corpsman Melson Bacos, the squad medic. Bacos and four other members of Hutchins' squad have pleaded guilty to lesser charges and received sentences ranging from one to eight years. The court-martial of Hutchins and two other Marines are taking place this month.

This accused murderer is not the Lawrence Hutchins his friends and family know.

"I just can't see him doing it," said Seth Lawrence, 32, Hutchins' friend and the owner of a youth dirt-bike racing team for which the Marine had competed as a teenager.

"Larry is the kind of son every mother dreams of," said Kathleen Hutchins, who described Hutchins as an adoring father of his 2-year-old daughter, Kylie . Mary Hale , 82, who lives across the street from the Hutchinses' gray clapboard house, recalled Hutchins as "a sweetheart of the neighborhood" who often helped her around the yard.

Hutchins' deployment exposed him to a world of brutality and hardship that was nothing like his life in Plymouth.

Hutchins's parents said their son's terse, infrequent descriptions of the war painted a picture of relentless violence, a war in which the enemy was often long gone before the roadside bomb went off, it was often impossible to avenge the attacks, and insurgents and friendly civilians looked alike.

"He's talked to me about being pinned down, about being shot at, about when people set the dogs on you. Seeing people dead and blown up," said Lawrence Hutchins Jr., a retired Marine who has never seen combat. "He's said people were killed on different missions he was on."

Hutchins had spent four months in Iraq before the alleged killing, searching for insurgents in dusty villages west of Baghdad. He would leave the base with his squad for five days at a time, riding in an armored vehicle through hamlets scattered across the desert, eating military-issue, flavorless ready-to-eat meals and often sleeping on the floor in abandoned houses, said his younger brother, Kurt Hutchins. They would return to base for two days and go back out into the sinister desert again.

In his short phone calls home over a satellite phone from Iraq, Hutchins had complained of physical deprivations.

" 'It's freezing here at night, please send me socks. And hungry, very hungry,' " his mother recalled Hutchins as saying. His lips were chapped from the dry desert wind. His eyes hurt from frequent dust storms and blinding sun.