Family of accused Marine launches Web site in his defense

Associated Press

February 26, 2007

MERIDEN, Conn. -- The family of a U.S. Marine from Connecticut accused in connection with the deaths of Iraqi civilians has launched a Web site in his defense.

Family and supporters of Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, 26, a native of Meriden, said the site is intended to raise awareness of his case, counter allegations against him and help pay for his defense.

"This gets the word out about Frank," his father, David Wuterich, told the Record-Journal of Meriden. "The more positive stuff out there, the better."

Wuterich is one of two Marines charged with murder in the deaths of five Iraqi civilians. Two other Marines face murder charges in connection with the deaths of other Iraqi civilians shot shortly afterward.

Through his lawyers, Wuterich has claimed he acted appropriately and within military rules governing the use of deadly force in combat.

Wuterich, who was the squad leader, returned from Iraq in April and is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, his family said. He faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted.

A military hearing is scheduled for June 4, followed by a review to determine whether the matter is dismissed, sent to a court martial or military trial.

"He's pretty sure it's going to go all the way," David Wuterich said.

Supporters also hope the attention will raise money for Wuterich's defense, hoping to schedule a fundraiser in Meriden this spring, David Wuterich said.

He said the cost of his son's defense is astronomical.

Mark S. Zaid, one of Wuterich's lawyers, said other clients have also used Web sites to raise money and educate people on cases.

"This case, unfortunately, has become a partisan case for both the left and the right for different reasons," Zaid said. "Frank's not alone in this, but he has greater notoriety because his name is the most bandied about."

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