CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — A Camp Pendleton Marine testified Wednesday that his commanding officer called for violent retaliation before his squad killed 24 Iraqis, including women and children, in 2005.
According to U-T San Diego, Sgt. Sanick Dela Cruz said that Sgt. Frank Wuterich told his squad how they should react if they were attacked again.
"If we ever get hit again, we should kill everyone in that vicinity," Wuterich allegedly told his men, according to Dela Cruz' testimony.
Wuterich, who faces nine counts of voluntary manslaughter, is the last defendant in the biggest and lengthiest criminal case against U.S. troops to arise from the Iraq War. The attack is considered among the war's defining moments, further tainting America's reputation when it was already at a low point over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
Wuterich's comment allegedly came in the wake of the death of a Marine in Camp Pendleton's 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.
The killings in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005, came after the squad was attacked by a roadside bomb while running a supply convoy.
Dela Cruz and Wuterich, 31, were among the first to jump out of their trucks that day.
He said he saw Wuterich had taken a knee and was pointing his gun at a group of Iraqi men standing in front of a white car nearby.
Dela Cruz testified that he assumed his squad leader had seen something threatening and was shooting, so he also opened fire.
Dela Cruz also performed a "dead check" by spraying bullets at the bodies from a close range.
No weapons were found on the Iraqi men, and none was linked to the insurgency.
Dela Cruz also testified that he regrets urinating on the skull of one of the dead Iraqis, saying he was taken over by grief for his dead comrade.
"The emotion took over, sir. We had just had one Marine (who) died," said Dela Cruz.
Six squad members have had charges dropped or dismissed, and one was acquitted.
Wuterich's charges were reduced to voluntary manslaughter in nine of the 24 deaths and other crimes. Wuterich also has been charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice.
His lawyer, Neal Puckett, has said Wuterich is confident the all-military jury will acquit him.
Information from: U-T San Diego
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
A wave of emailed bomb threats targeting businesses, schools and other locations across the nation put law San Diego-area enforcement agencies on alert Thursday, though there were no immediate indications that any of the menacing messages were credible.
California regulators are considering a plan to charge a fee for text messaging on mobile phones to help support programs that make phone service accessible to the poor, according to a newspaper report Wednesday.
Closing arguments are scheduled Thursday for a former Yuma police officer accused of raping a Kensington woman last year during a visit to her family home.
A Cal State Long Beach student claims a final exam question crossed the line into racism, CBS Los Angeles reports.
San Diegans are invited to a holiday posada this Friday. Those celebrating enjoy food, singing, and other festivities.
San Diego is one of several cities around the nation that will get a new Apple campus in the next three years, the company announced Thursday.
U.S. authorities arrested 32 people at a demonstration Monday that was organized by a Quaker group on the border with Mexico, authorities said.
Representatives from San Diego County and Poseidon Water held a celebration on Thursday for the Claude "Bud" Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant producing its 40 billionth gallon of drinking water.
A California judge who was recalled after sentencing a former Stanford student to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a young woman is asking people to donate money so he can pay court-ordered attorney's fees to the backers of the recall.