CAMP PENDLETON — A Marine corporal was found guilty Wednesday of conspiracy to murder an Iraqi man but was acquitted of premeditated murder and kidnapping.
Cpl. Marshall Magincalda was also found guilty of larceny and housebreaking, and cleared of making a false official statement. He stood rigidly alongside his two attorneys as sighs and gasps filled the packed courtroom.
A separate jury continued to deliberate in the case of his squad leader, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, who faces the same charges.
Magincalda, 24, of Manteca, could face a life prison term — but that is not mandatory.
Magincalda was not accused of firing any shots in the April 26, 2006, slaying in Hamdania, Iraq.
The verdict was rendered by a jury of five enlisted men and one officer. The officer read the verdict. All members of the panel have served at least one combat tour in Iraq.
Prosecutors said that during a nighttime patrol, the Marine squad hatched a plan to kidnap and kill a suspected insurgent from his house. When they couldn’t find him, they instead kidnapped a man from a neighboring house, dragged him to a hole and shot him.
All eight members of the squad were initially charged with murder and kidnapping. Four lower-ranking Marines, including Tracy resident Lance Cpl. Tyler Jackson, and a Navy corpsman cut deals with prosecutors in exchange for their testimony and received sentences ranging from one to eight years in prison.
However, a jury acquitted another defendant of murder, despite several of his former squad mates testifying that he helped kidnap and shoot the man. Cpl. Trent D. Thomas was convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy.
His rank was reduced to private and he was given a bad-conduct discharge _ but with no prison time.
Prosecutors have singled Hutchins, 23, of Plymouth, Mass., as the ringleader in the plot and testimony from the more junior troops seemed to focus on him and, to a lesser extent, his two corporals.
Magincalda was accused of being part of the four-man “snatch team” that seized the victim from his home.
Magincalda’s defense attorneys argued that the Marine is a religious man who wanted no part in the conspiracy and told his squad mates he would not shoot anyone.
Hutchins’ defense attorneys argued the squad leader participated in the plot because his officers had set a poor leadership example and given approval for Marines to use violence in capturing and interrogating suspected insurgents.