First Sergeant, United States Army
John was tried by the Commander, Headquarters, 7th Army Joint National Training Command, in Vilseck, Germany in April 2009. On 16 April 2009, 1SG John Hatley was court-martialed and found guilty of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder of four Iraqi detainees in 2007 near Baghdad. According to evidence and testimony presented at Hatley’s trial, the Iraqis were taken into custody after an exchange of fire with Hatley’s unit. Hatley was sentenced to life in prison with an opportunity for parole, reduction to E-1, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. This is despite the lack of any ballistic or forensic evidence, but based solely on the testimony of a few soldiers who had taken pre-trial agreements in exchange for testimony leading to his conviction.
The Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) conducted a thorough investigation, which included sending a seven-man Army dive team to search the canal where the alleged victims were supposedly left and a purported "eye witness" that took them to all the critical areas in Iraq. Despite the rigorous efforts of the investigating team, they did not find one shred of physical or forensic evidence to suggest that any men were missing, much less killed. There were no bodies, no brass, and no evidence of a crime. Additionally, CID conducted extensive interviews with the family members of the detained men who stated that no one from their family was missing. CID also conducted interviews with the neighbors of the surrounding areas who stated no one from their neighborhood was missing. CID also interviewed the man who owned the farm where the bodies were allegedly disposed. He stated that he had no knowledge of any killings or had he heard of anyone being killed. Again, the only "evidence" was from compelled statements from a few soldiers who claimed that "four men of middle-eastern descent" were killed. The additional charges which were either dismissed or for which he was found Not Guilty were all alleged by the same individual who was pending legal action that made the original allegations. Despite the verdict, former Company A members have remained loyal to Hatley.
John’s sentence was reduced by the convening authority to 40-years. In June 2016, his
sentence was further reduced to 25 years by the Army Clemency and Parole Board, which he is
currently serving at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, KS. The point here is not to relitigate the legal issues of the trial. John received his day in court and the courts determined that he must be held legally responsible for the death of these men. He has acknowledged the court’s decision and punishment. Still, by the multiple reductions of sentence, John’s impeccable record while incarcerated, and the unusual circumstances created by the lack of identified victims and forensic evidence, warrants consideration for the request for commutation.