Marine Officer To Stand Trial In Haditha Slayings

A Marine officer charged with making false official statements and obstructing justice in connection with the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha more than two years ago will stand trial May 28 at Camp Pendleton.

First Lt. Andrew Grayson, who did not enter a plea at Wednesday's hearing, is also charged with attempting to fraudulently separate from the Marine Corps.

He is the last Marine charged in the case to be arraigned and assigned a trial date. Two officers and two enlisted men will stand trial for their alleged roles in the deaths.

Grayson told Judge Maj. Brian Kasprzyk that he would decide later whether he wants to be tried by a judge or jury.

The 26-year-old lieutenant could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, dismissal from the Marine Corps and forfeiture of pay if convicted of all charges.

Grayson was on his second tour of duty in Iraq at the time of the deaths, which included the killing of women and children.

His civilian attorney, Joseph Casas, questioned Kasprzyk today about his relationship with one of the military prosecutors, Maj. Daren Erickson, who was not in court Wednesday.

Kasprzyk said Erickson had been his supervisor at the Twentynine Palms Marine Base for nearly three years, ending in May 2006.

The judge told Casas he had been an off-duty guest in Erickson's home, saw him at several official events and had dinner with him, the last time about six months ago.

Kasprzyk said nothing in his encounters with Erickson would taint his judgment in Grayson's case.

Casas said he was satisfied with the judge's answers.

The attorney then asked Kasprzyk if he knew Maj. K. Scott Woodard, who was one of Grayson's attorneys until Grayson decided he no longer wanted Woodard to represent him.

The judge said he met Woodard in November when they attended an Army course for military attorneys.

Kasprzyk said he and Woodard rode a bus to class together and attended several Marine-related events. The judge said his knowledge of Woodard would not affect his courtroom actions.

Casas said Woodard could be the subject of litigation related to legal advice he gave Grayson.

Kasprzyk scheduled the first of several motions hearings in Grayson's case for March 4.

A court-martial date of Feb. 25 has been set for Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who led the squad involved in the 24 deaths.

He faces charges of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice.

Another Marine accused in the case, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, will stand trial March 28 on charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault.

The highest-ranking Marine charged in the Haditha slayings, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, is scheduled for trial April 28.

He is accused of violating a lawful order and dereliction of duty for failing to report and accurately investigated the deaths.

The Iraqi civilians died Nov. 19, 2005, after Marine Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas was killed in a roadside bombing.

Eight Marines were originally charged, but charges against four of them were dropped.

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