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 two vehicle crash left one person critically injured Friday in Emerald Hills, according to authorities.
Some of the smartest high school students in San Diego County will be in Atlanta this weekend competing in the National Quiz Bowl Championship.
Californians Aware, a statewide group that advocates for government transparency, Friday expressed concern over a soon-to-take- effect San Diego Unified School District policy to delete most emails after one year.
Millions of Southern Californians will be taking to the roads and airways Friday as the Memorial Day travel crunch goes into high gear, and the large crowds will likely test the patience of motorists and airline passengers.
Several good Samaritans, including a grandmother, disregarded their own safety today when they helped subdue and disarm a knife- waving man who attacked the driver of a bus full of schoolchildren in a rural neighborhood in southeastern San Diego County.
An animal known as the San Quintin Kangaroo rat and native to Baja California is back from the brink of extinction.
As Memorial Day weekend approaches, San Diego Blood Bank CEO David Wellis today encouraged those who haven't recently donated blood to consider scheduling an appointment.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is famous for its expansive habitats featuring African and Asian species. The all-new Walkabout Australia gives park guests a view into a new region of the world with interesting and unique species.
Dr. Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL, wants to help girls play big, dream bigger, and have a game plan to turn dreams into reality at her upcoming GRRRIDIRON GIRLS Flag Football Camp!