Prosecutors had sought 15 years in prison for Cpl. Trent Thomas in the death of a man in April 2006. But a jury of Marines with combat experience sided with his attorney, who argued for no further jail time, the LA Times reports.
After an hour of deliberation, a military jury today spared Marine Cpl. Trent Thomas from a prison sentence but ordered him given a bad-conduct discharge for his conviction on charges of kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of an Iraqi in Hamandiya last year.
The jury could have sentenced Thomas, 25, to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But the jury had wide flexibility, including sparing Thomas from prison.
Lt. Col. John Baker, the lead prosecutor, had asked that Thomas be sentenced to a dishonorable discharge and 15 years in prison as a warning to other young Marines to follow the laws of war.
But Maj. Haytham Faraj, one of Thomas’ attorneys, had asked that Thomas be given no further jail time beyond the 519 days he has spent in the brig while awaiting trial. He also asked that Thomas not be given a dishonorable discharge because that would make him ineligible for care from the military for his post-traumatic stress disorder.
The jurors know from personal experience the frustration and danger that Thomas’ and his fellow members felt while patrolling an area rife with roadside bombs and snipers. Three jurors have served three tours in Iraq, five have served two tours.
Five of the nine have been awarded the Combat Action Ribbon for having come under enemy fire. One juror received the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest medal for bravery, and a second received a Bronze Star for valor.