The lawyer for a Marine being investigated in the deaths of two dozen civilians in Haditha, Iraq, last fall describes the event as "tragic."

But attorney Neal Puckett denies innocent people were killed intentionally and says the Marines followed military rules of engagement.

Puckett says Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich told him several civilians were killed after a roadside bombing when his squad pursued insurgents firing at them from inside a house.

Puckett quotes the 26-year-old sergeant as describing a house-to-house search that went wrong and resulted in unintended civilian deaths.

But he says Wuterich has denied allegations of an intentional massacre.

An investigation has been examining whether Marines tried to cover up the shootings and whether commanders were negligent in failing to investigate the deaths when they were reported.

No one has been charged.