CAMP PENDLETON, California — A Marine sergeant whose squad killed 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in assaults after a bomb killed a fellow Marine has told a judge he never fired his weapon at any women or children that day.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich addressed a Camp Pendleton, Calif., court during sentencing for negligent dereliction of duty in the 2005 attacks in Haditha, Iraq.

A plea deal Monday ended a manslaughter case against the Marine from Meriden, Conn. Prosecutors implicated Wuterich in 19 of the 24 deaths.

Wuterich's statement also addressed surviving members of families who were attacked, saying he knows nothing can ease their pain and that they are the real victims.

Wuterich said that when he told his squad to shoot first and ask questions later, he did not intend they shoot civilians, but to not hesitate in the face of the enemy.