With remarkably little publicity, all charges have been dropped against two more of the 8 Marines charged in the prosecution of alleged crimes in the Haditha incident, a case which made headlines around the world. From the "state news" section of the Bakersfield Californian:
All charges have been dismissed against two Marines accused in the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, the Marine Corps announced Thursday.
Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt, 22, of Canonsburg, Pa., was charged with murdering three brothers, and Capt. Randy Stone, 35, a battalion lawyer from Dunkirk, Md., was charged with failing to adequately report and investigate the Nov. 19, 2005, combat action in which women and children were among the dead.
The case is far from over, however.
Four enlisted Marines were initially charged with murder and four officers were charged with failing to investigate. Prosecutors dropped charges against one of the enlisted men, Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz of Chicago and gave him immunity to testify against his squad mates.
The central figure in the case remains squad leader Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich of Meriden, Conn., who faces 18 counts of murder. He is scheduled to attend a preliminary hearing Aug. 22.
The other enlisted Marine, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum of Edmond, Okla., has attended a preliminary hearing, but no recommendation has been made about whether he should stand trial for murder.
We await further developments, and hope the legal agony being endured by the these fighting men soon is over.