CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - A Marine reservist was found guilty yesterday of killing an Iraqi soldier while they stood watch together at a guard post in Fallujah.

Lance Cpl. Delano Holmes, 22, of Indianapolis, was convicted of negligent homicide but was acquitted of the more serious charge of unpremeditated homicide. He was convicted also of making a false statement.

A panel of three officers and five enlisted Marines returned the verdict after two days of deliberating over whether the Dec. 31, 2006, stabbing of Pvt. Munther Muhammed Hassin was an act of murder or self-defense.

A sentencing hearing was set to begin immediately after the verdict. Holmes faced up to eight years in confinement, reduction to the rank of private, forfeiture of pay and allowances, and dishonorable discharge.

Holmes' attorney said the stabbing was an act of self-defense after Hassin allegedly opened his cell phone and then lit a cigarette.

Steve Cook told jurors the men were not supposed to display any illuminated objects because of the threat of sniper fire, and Holmes tried repeatedly to get Hassin to extinguish the cigarette.

Holmes told investigators he knocked the cigarette from the soldier's hand and the two got into a fight, falling to the ground.

During the struggle, Holmes felt Hassin reaching for his loaded AK-47, so he stabbed him with a bayonet that was attached to his jacket, Cook has said.

Prosecutors said Holmes killed the soldier and then set up the scene, firing the soldier's AK-47. Capt. Brett Miner said Holmes "mauled" Hassin with 17 stab wounds, 26 slashes, and a chop to the face that nearly severed his nose.

"Not a scratch. Not a blemish. . . . There is not a mark on him," Miner said of Holmes. "There is no self-defense. There can be lawful killings during a time of war. This is not a lawful killing."