A Navy SEAL and a Marine will be tried for the hazing death of Green Beret Logan Melgar, who was allegedly duct-taped and put in a chokehold by his military comrades in Mali two years ago.
The Navy announced Friday that Marine Raider Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez, 34, and Navy Special Operations Chief Tony DeDolph, 40, were referred to a court-martial on murder and other charges that could land them with life sentences.
An admiral made the decision after the evidence against the pair was laid out at a hearing in Norfolk, Virginia, last month, where two other military men who copped pleas took the stand against DeDolph and Madera-Rodriguez.
According to testimony by Marine Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell and Chief Special Warfare Operator Adam Matthews, Melgar ditched the rest of the team on the way to a party at the French embassy—and they decided to get revenge by hazing him.
In the dead of night, they used a sledgehammer to break into Melgar’s room and then rushed him. DeDolph allegedly applied a choke hold while Matthews and Maxwell duct-taped Melgar’s arms and legs.
“The overall intent wasn’t to hurt him,” Matthews said.
Prosecutors alleged that the group also planned to have a local man molest Melgar, but the admiral declined to add sexual misconduct charges to the court-martial.
DeDolph’s attorney, Phil Stackhouse, has argued the evidence does not support murder charges.
“Clearly what happened is a horrible, tragic accident,” Stackhouse said. “Based on all the facts in this case, nobody went into that room to kill Staff Sgt. Melgar.”