Jailed Mukilteo Marine set free

MUKILTEO – A Marine Corps enlisted man from Mukilteo who pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy to kill an Iraqi civilian was released Friday from a military jail in California, Marine officials said.

Pvt. Robert B. Pennington, 22, was released after a meeting Friday with Lt. Gen. James Mattis. Mattis agreed to grant Pennington clemency, thereby reducing his sentence, as allowed under military law, officials said.

“We are overjoyed. Thank you God,” his father, Terry Pennington, said. “We’re bouncing off the ceilings and walls and we couldn’t be more pleased with Gen. Mattis’ decision.”

Pennington was the last of the five Marines who pleaded guilty in the April 2006 death of a Hamdania man to have his sentence reduced.

Mattis, commanding general of Marine Forces Command, reduced Pennington’s sentence after reviewing the case.

At the time of the incident, Pennington was 21, was not a squad leader or fire-team leader and he did not fire his weapon, Mattis said.

He was on his third tour of duty in Iraq.

In February, Pennington entered the guilty plea. Under the plea agreement, Pennington was reduced in rank and was to be dishonorably discharged. He was to serve an eight-year sentence.

“The biggest concern we had was getting him out of the hellhole they had him locked up in,” Terry Pennington said.

Now, Pvt. Pennington will remain in the military for an undetermined amount of time while Mattis reviews the plea agreement, his father said.

Mattis could waive all the findings or let them stand, Terry Pennington said.

Robert Pennington graduated from Kamiak High School in 2002. He participated in the Running Start program and finished his high school career attending classes at Edmonds Community College.

He joined the Marines in 2002, in part as a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

On Friday, he was granted a leave to spend the weekend with his family members who were with him during the meeting with the general.

“He’s looking forward to some real food,” Terry Pennington said.

The father thanked supporters in Mukilteo who have stood by the Marine during the ordeal.

“Apparently there is a God,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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