Friday, July 20, 2007

Operation Debacle: Cpl. Trent Thomas' Murder Trial

Cpl. Trent Thomas of Madison, Ill. was the senior corporal of a squad of seven Marines and a Navy corpsman who was in the middle of a high-profile military trial at Camp Pendleton.

According to the testimony of the four Marines and a Navy medic who were there, the total group of eight decided on April 26, 2006 to kill Saleh Gowad, who was a "known insurgent." They couldn't find Gowad. So instead, they intentionally abducted another man, 52-year old Hashim Ibrahim Awad from his home. Reports indicate that Awad was a disabled police officer.

The group bound Awad, marched him to a bomb crater a half-mile away and shot him to death. The squad members tried to cover up the killing by planting a shovel and an AK-47 by the body so that it would look as if Awad was killed while planting a bomb.

Thomas was charged with conspiracy, first degree premeditated murder, larceny, kidnapping and lying, facing a lifetime in prison without parole. Under the original plea bargain, Thomas plead guilty to unpremeditated murder, kidnapping, conspiracy and other charges in exchange for 12 years in prison. Four of the Marines and the Navy medic already plead guilty and testified against Thomas, but Thomas stunned the military court when he withdrew his guilty plea awhile back and decided to try the case.

His defense team didn't argue that the killing did not occur the way described above nor did they argue that Thomas didn't participate. Thomas' lawyer: "Under the circumstances, Corporal Thomas had no alternative but to do what he did." He was just following orders.

The absurdity of Trent's defense was overshadowed by the less than one hour deliberation of a military jury (consisting of 3 Officers, and 6 enlisted Marines). The court sentenced Trent to a bad-conduct discharge and reduced pay when the jury acquitted him of murder.

Thomas told the court that he wanted to return to military service: "I've never been good at anything until I came to the Marine Corps. It's pretty obvious Michael Jordan was meant to play basketball. Tiger Woods was meant to play golf. The Marine Corps, it's me."

See: AP Story.


Anonymous said...

i know one thing he's good at.

Bill Business said...

I think I just threw up in my mouth.

Anonymous said...

he need more guys like him!

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