CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) - A four-star general says he never improperly received advice on the biggest criminal case against U.S. troops to arise from the Iraq war.

Gen. James Mattis testified for nearly two hours Monday in a pretrial hearing at Camp Pendleton to consider a request by defense attorneys to dismiss charges against Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich.

The 30-year-old sergeant is the only remaining of eight Marines who were charged in a case involving the deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha in November 2005.

The defense argues that Mattis was improperly influenced by a colonel who investigated the killings and later became a top legal adviser to the general.

Mattis acknowledged Col. John Ewers was at meetings where Haditha was discussed but said the aide recused himself.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)