Terry Pennington ; Deanna home
Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 8:18 PM
Subject: Court Martial Day
I have bad news and I have more bad news. And maybe, just maybe, some good news.
Here is the deal:
The "Pendleton 8" were convicted by the government before they ever even left Iraq. That's why they were immediately placed in shackles when they arrived at the brig at Camp Pendleton. That's why they've been in solitary cells at that brig ever since. That's why every motion we've made with our defense team to try to lessen their pre-trial punishment has been denied. And that's why our Marine, Rob, pled guilty to a couple of the counts against him today.
In a unanimous decision by all four members of his defense team, it was decided none of the Marines had a chance at a fair trial. The jury pool, some 205 military personnel, was made up of their "peers" as mandated by military law. Their "peers" had no combat experience. Not one of them had any "trigger time". None of them could possibly fairly judge the actions of our Marines. All available evidence pointed to convictions.
In the military world, a conviction of conspiracy to commit murder or the commission of a kidnapping offense has only one possible mandatory sentence. Life in prison. The only question left to be answered after such conviction is with or without the possibility of parole. That's it. No more discussion. Since we knew these things our defense attorneys went to the "convening authority" Lt Gen James Mattis and asked if there were any possibility for a "deal". He said yes - he was willing to cap Rob's sentence at something far lower than life in return for a guilty plea. This meant admitting, in open court, on the record, to the things he has been charged with. Or some of them, at least. He has now done that. He has admitted he knew what they were doing on that dark night in Iraq last April was "illegal". He must also testify against the remaining three from his squad not already convicted should they continue on the road they're on and contest their trial.
What's the good news you ask? The good news is he will not spend the rest of his life in prison. I cannot at this time divulge what the cap is on his sentence. The second bit of good news is that Rob is doing well and is looking forward to the healing process that will get him out of the hell that has been his life since his experiences in Fallujah. We have also come to know and understand just how devasting the effect of the losses that he suffered in November and December of 2004, and how they have forever changed his life.
We will all be in court for the next few days, possibly until sometime Friday, talking about how much we love and support him and what a great guy he is in an effort to get him the lightest sentence possible. After that we'll be seeking your help in getting out the word that we need letters written to the aforementioned convening authority, Lt Gen James Mattis to try to secure a clemency deal for Rob. Failing that, we have a lame duck president who will be passing out a few pardons at the end of his next term. He could use your input as well.
Due to the fact that we have to try hard to not aggravate General Mattis at this time (since he can do us some good) we have to lay low and not go on network TV and radio blasting what has occurred. I don't know where I'll find the strength to control myself but hopefully it will turn up. We will advise you of mailing addresses, email addresses, that sort of thing when we need your letter writing help. There is also an appeal process that's automatic in military law but that could take years if not decades so there's not much help there.
More when we know more,
Terry & Deanna
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