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Marine to serve no jail time in Haditha killings

Alex Gallardo / Reuters

U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich leaves the courtroom after his sentencing at Camp Pendleton Jan. 24. Wuterich, accused of leading a 2005 massacre of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq, was spared jail time on Tuesday for his role in the killings that brought international condemnation of American troops.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, the only marine to face sentencing for the killing of two dozen Iraqis in one of the Iraq War's defining moments walked away with no jail time Tuesday after defending his squad's storming of the homes of Haditha as a necessary act.

Military judge Lt. Col. David Jones recommended three months of confinement, which prosecutors said Wuterich deserved; but after learning the terms governing the plea agreement, Jones said the deal prevented any jail time for the Marine.

Jones recommended that the sergeant's rank be reduced to private, but not to dock his pay because the divorced father has sole custody of his three daughters.

Wuterich read a statement apologizing to the victims' families and said he never fired on or intended to harm innocent women and children. But he said his plea shouldn't be seen as a statement that he believes his squad dishonored their country.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this post.

Hadi Mizban / AP

Aws Fahmy, 45, who was injured in the U.S. Marines raid in Haditha in 2005 and Omer Chasib, who lost his father in the same attack stand at the scene in Haditha, Iraq, Jan. 24. There were no public outbursts of anger in Haditha on Tuesday when the news that the U.S. Marine sergeant, who told his troops to "shoot first, ask questions later" would serve no jail time.