Marine Who Faked Death Faces Court Martial

A summary court-martial will be held at Camp Pendleton Friday for a Marine who allegedly faked his death to avoid a possible third deployment to Iraq.

Marine Lance Cpl. Lance Hering, 23, went missing in 2006 while on leave during a hiking trip in his hometown in Colorado the month before he was scheduled to report to Camp Pendleton.

Hering's attorney planned to argue Friday that his client had a nervous breakdown because of the stress he experienced in Iraq, including the death of a close friend killed by a roadside bomb while taking Hering's place on a day when Hering was in the hospital.

"The harshness of Hering's combat experiences simply exceeded his personal ability to cope," attorney James Culp, a former infantry sergeant and combat veteran who represents Marines and soldiers in high-profile criminal cases, told the Los Angeles Times.

Hering is a member of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, also known as the Dark Horse Battalion. He went missing after the unit returned from a rough deployment in which eight Marines were killed and dozens wounded, and seven Marines and a corpsman in Hering's company were accused of war crimes.

Hering remained missing for about two years until earlier this year when he contacted his family for the first time since August 2006. His family persuaded him to see a psychiatrist who specialized in post-traumatic stress disorder and eventually to surrender.

Hering could have been charged with desertion in the time of war, an offense that can carry the death penalty. Instead, he was instead initially charged with the military equivalent of a misdemeanor, carrying at most a year in the brig and a bad-conduct discharge.

Since then, the Corps has lowered the possible punishment even more, The Times reported.

Friday, Hering faces being sentenced to 30 days in the brig, 45 days of hard labor, 60 days' confinement or a combination of the three.

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