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Marine from Indiana charged in Iraqi soldier's death
CBS 47
August 14, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Marine reservist from Indiana has been charged with murdering an Iraqi army soldier in Fallujah, an attorney said Tuesday.

Lance Cpl. Delano Holmes, 21, of Indianapolis, is accused of stabbing Munther Jasem Muhammed Hassin to death as the two men stood watch at a security post on Dec. 31, 2006, Holmes' lawyer said.

The struggle began in the pre-dawn darkness after Hassin allegedly opened his cell phone then lit a cigarette at the post, attorney Steve Cook said.

The men were not supposed to display any illuminated objects because of the threat of sniper fire, and Holmes made repeated attempts to make Hassin extinguish the cigarette, Cook said.

"(Holmes) said 'No, no,' but the Iraqi soldier refused to put out the cigarette," Cook said. "Holmes knocked it out of his hands and they started wrestling on the ground."

Holmes thought Hassin was reaching for his loaded AK-47, so the Marine killed him with his bayonet then radioed for help, Cook said.

Holmes faces charges of unpremeditated murder and making a false official statement, and has been in the Camp Pendleton brig since Feb. 23, Cook said.

Cook said his client was acting in self defense.

"Lance Corporal Holmes is not guilty of the charges and he intends to prove that at trial," Cook said.

Holmes was arraigned July 31 but reserved his right not to enter a plea.

A message left with a Camp Pendleton Marine spokesman was not immediately returned Tuesday night.

The attorney said he waited until now to go public about his client's case because he was hoping the Marines "would do the right thing" and drop the charges.

Holmes' court-martial is set to begin Dec. 3., said Cook, a former federal prosecutor in San Diego.

Holmes enlisted in the Marine reserves in May 2004 and was on his first deployment in Iraq, Cook said. He is from the 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, based out of Lansing, Mich.

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