Reporting from Camp Pendleton—

U.S. combat involvement in Iraq is over, but the controversial events of one of the bloodiest mornings involving U.S. troops in that eight-year war are now the focus of a high-profile court-martial here.

The day was Nov. 19, 2005, when Marines fatally shot 24 Iraqis in the village of Haditha in a failed search for insurgents who had just detonated a roadside bomb that killed one Marine and severely injured two others.

An eight-man jury — made up entirely of combat veterans — is asked to decide whether a squad leader acted out of vengeance or was merely following orders and standard procedure when he led his Marines into nearby homes where, without asking questions, they began firing their M-16s and hurling grenades.

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