July 10, 2008, Camp Pendleton, CA – A Camp Pendleton Marine who allegedly helped kill at least four detainees during a 2004 battle in Fallujah, Iraq, seemed to confess during a taped interview that was replayed Thursday.
Prosecutors introduced the evidence during an Article 32 hearing on the base, hoping that it will help convince the officer presiding over the proceeding and Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland to court-martial Sgt. Ryan Weemer.
The audiotape came from a 2006 job interview that Weemer had with the U.S. Secret Service. He was asked about the worst crime he had ever committed.
On the tape recording, Weemer said he and other Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment were fighting their way through Fallujah in November 2004 when they found four or five men in a barricaded house containing weapons.
He said members of his unit radioed their superiors and asked what they should do with the prisoners. Weemer said the response was, “Are they dead yet?”
Weemer said his unit interpreted the question as an order to kill the detainees, and so they did.
“We argued about it, but we had to move, we had to get out, our unit’s moving down the street. I did one guy,” Weemer said on the tape.
“We didn’t take any prisoners,” he added. “If we let anyone go, they are going to run down the street and grab an (assault rifle) because they had them stashed.”
Weemer is then heard saying there were “plenty of incidents” in which Marines killed Iraqis in similar fashion.
He left the military two years ago, but because he was still on reserve status, the Marine Corps reinstated him to active duty so it could prosecute him through military channels.
Besides Weemer, Sgt. Jermaine Nelson and former Sgt. Jose Luis Nazario are facing charges in the Fallujah case.
During the Thursday hearing, prosecutors also played a tape of Nelson saying that he, Weemer and Nazario killed the detainees.
Maj. Glen Hines, who is overseeing the hearing, will determine whether there is enough evidence to support court-martialing Weemer on one count of murder and six counts of dereliction of duty. He will make his recommendation to Helland, who is the covening authority in the case.