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A Marine was convicted Wednesday of kidnapping and conspiracy to murder but acquitted of the most serious charge of premeditated murder in the killing of an Iraqi man who was dragged from his home to a ditch where he was fatally shot. Cpl. Trent Thomas was also acquitted of making a false official statement, housebreaking and larceny. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Thomas, 25, was the first member of his squad to take his case to trial. Four other Marines and a Navy corpsman pleaded guilty; two other Marines face trial.

The squad members were accused of killing a civilian they found asleep in his home after they failed to kidnap a suspected insurgent. Squad members tried to cover up the killing by planting a gun near the victim.

Thomas withdrew his guilty plea on the eve of sentencing after having an "epiphany." His lawyer claimed Thomas was only following orders.

Thomas had faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. Kelley said there was no minimum sentencing requirement for conspiracy and kidnapping. A sentencing hearing was scheduled to begin Thursday.


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