CAMP PENDLETON (CNS) - A Marine squadron leader pleaded guilty Monday to negligent dereliction of duty for his role in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005.
The plea from Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 31, came in the middle of his court-martial at Camp Pendleton. Charges of manslaughter and assaulted were dropped as a result of the plea agreement.
Misdemeanor dereliction of duty is punishable to 90 days in custody and a reduction or forfeiture in pay.
Wuterich is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday at Camp Pendleton.
"Staff Sergeant Wuterich believed this was the right and honorable thing to do," Wuterich's lead attorney, Neal Puckett, told the North County Times.
Wuterich's plea was anticipated last week, but his court-martial resumed when negotiations apparently fell through.
Several prosecution witnesses gave testimony backing Wuterich's position that he believed his squad was under attack when the killings occurred.
Wuterich was accused in the deaths in Haditha, Iraq, on Nov. 19, 2005, after a roadside bomb killed a member of his squad.
The single father of three girls said he believed five men who were killed when they pulled up in a car represented a threat after the roadside bombing.
Nineteen others, including six children and four women, were killed in three houses.
Eight Marines were charged in connection with the incident, including four officers and four enlisted men.
All of their cases were resolved.
In a ceremony at the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park, people paid homage to those who lost their lives in service to our great nation.
A soldier from the San Diego area died as a result of a "non-combat related" incident in Kosovo, the Department of Defense said Friday.
Authorities Friday released the name of a lawman who opened fire on an assault suspect who allegedly charged him with a machete over his head in a busy intersection near Grossmont Center mall.
Law enforcement agencies across San Diego County are planning to crack down on drunken driving over the three-day Memorial Day weekend.
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.