[JURIST] A military judge at Camp Pendleton [official website] Wednesday set a trial date of February 25 for the court-martial of US Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich [advocacy website] who faces charges of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice in connection to the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians at Haditha [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive] in November 2005. Wuterich was ordered [JURIST report] to face court-martial on December 31. He did not enter a plea at his arraignment Wednesday.
Wuterich was initially charged with unpremeditated murder, but the investigating officer in Wuterich's case recommended [JURIST report] last year that the more serious charge be dropped. An official report on the Haditha incident by US Army Major General Eldon Bargewell found "serious misconduct" [JURIST report] on all levels of the US Marine Corps chain of command. Reuters has more.