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Justice finally prevails in military case

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POSTED June 27, 2013 10:11 p.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

The military’s highest court overturned a murder conviction Wednesday against a Camp Pendleton Marine in one of the most significant cases against American troops from the Iraq war. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces threw out the conviction of Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III of Plymouth, Mass., who has served about half of his 11-year sentence. Now, we can only pray that the Marines and the Military Justice System will close this issue once and for all and let their healing begin.

Since May of 2006 these men and their families have suffered much at the hands of the Military Justice System.  But, now maybe we can all try and heal.  This nightmare and the devastation for these Marines, and their families, will never be erased from our souls, but once Sgt. Hutch is freed forever, we can hopefully finally try and go forward again!  These families all formed a bond that came out of fear, uncertainty, and ultimately a war that was waged on us in the 9-11 attacks that will never be broken.  In a matter of speaking, and in my opinion, we all became one family.

 What our Marines and all of our families learned throughout this long journey would prove to be devastatingly raw, unjust and deeply painful.  Whether it is on a financial, social, or personal level, we have all lost something that will never be recaptured.  Some lost our sons to the fog of extreme PTSD. Some lost their homes, their health, and often times, it seemed, our sanity.  But, what also was lost was our faith and trust in the government that ultimately runs the military and this country. We experienced firsthand how the Military, that protects our Country, does represent and, in fact and reality, act above all the laws of our country.  The notions, just to name a few, of ‘due process’, ‘right to counsel’, ‘be charged or be released’, right to ‘face your accuser’, even basic evidence laws, or legal protocol when court is held,  are not provided for any member of our Armed Forces.  Our son, Marshall Jr, was even deprived a Bible during his early incarceration.  They were brought home from Iraq, not told why, thrown into solitary confinement for weeks, reasons unknown to all the eight, always handcuffed and shackled for the brief Saturday hour long visits with immediate family only.

 These Marines and their families came together from across the country and were thrown together into total chaos.  If, just the basic travel expenses of being there for our sons, week after week, month after month, initially just to see they were alive and well, or later, during Article 13 proceedings, lengthy Court Martial proceedings, legal negotiations, lost wages, lost jobs even,  didn’t bankrupt us.  Then, the extreme cost and process of finding and retaining a civilian attorney, as our son desired, would prove to be a vastly financially crippling blow. But, as parents, we did what we thought we should do to protect our son. Because it was becoming more apparent with each passing week, that the long awaited military counsel that was provided, ultimately answers for their actions to the Command at the time.  And, even though we did hire civilian counsel, the assigned Military Counsel would always be a required presence at any proceeding, even if it was protested. And, we call that ‘Justice’?

The family unit we all once knew, is forever gone.  We may never recover from the financial ruination. And the battle for us still continues, even today, with our mortgage lender, Bank of America.  The scars may heal someday, but our souls never will.  And, for Reyna and Larry Hutchins, their journey can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel.  The strength and fortitude of this young couple are an inspiration to this old lady and her husband. And, it is only further proof to us that good will prevail, even if it did take over 6 years for the Hutchins family

Leanne & Marshall Magincalda
June 26, 2013

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