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Marine Acquitted in Haditha Case

Here’s a headline you won’t see much of, today:

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.  —AP- [1] A military jury acquitted a Marine intelligence officer Wednesday of charges that he tried to help cover up the killings of 24 Iraqis.

Cheers erupted as the seven-officer panel cleared 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson, who was the first of three Marines to be tried in the biggest U.S. criminal case involving Iraqi deaths linked to the war. The verdict came just five hours after deliberations began.

The judge, Maj. Brian E. Kasprzyk, admonished the noisy courtroom, saying: “There will be no more of that.”

Grayson, who has always maintained he did nothing wrong, was not at the scene of the killings of men, women and children on Nov. 19, 2005, in Haditha. He was accused of telling a sergeant to delete photographs of the dead from a digital camera and laptop computer.

Outside the courtroom, a visibly emotional Grayson said the verdict was an end to a terrible ordeal.

That’s great news, all the better because:

Grayson’s attorney, Joseph Casas, said he believed the verdict could influence pending prosecutions.

“I think it sets the tone for the overall whirlwind Haditha has been. It’s been a botched investigation from the get-go,” he said. “I believe in the end all of the so-called Haditha Marines who still have to face trial will be exonerated.”

Prosecutors did not make themselves available for comment.

Jack Murtha had no comment.