A military court sentenced Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Mario A. Madera-Rodriguez to 6 months of confinement, a reduction in rank, and an additional 90 days of hard labor for his involvement in an array of crimes connected to the 2017 death of Army Green Beret Logan Melgar.
A jury made up of eight, all-male servicemembers in Norfolk, Virginia, handed down a sentence that was considerably less than the maximum sentence Madera-Rodriguez faced of 27.5 years in confinement and a dishonorable discharge.
“Hard labor” will be determined by Madera-Rodriguez’s command but could consist of picking up trash, digging ditches and mowing grass.
Army Green Beret Logan Melgar was killed in the African country of Mali in what has been described as a hazing gone wrong.
Earlier this month, Madera-Rodriguezof involuntary manslaughter, hazing, false statements, conspiracy to commit assault and battery, as well as conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The jury spared Madera-Rodriguez on charges of burglary and felony murder.
Three other servicemembers — including two senior Navy SEALs — have pleaded guilty to crimes resulting in Melgar’s death.
In 2019, Navy SEAL Chief Special Warfare Operator Adam Matthews was sentenced to one year in a military prison. He offered the first public account of Melgar’s death, saying they wanted to “embarrass” Melgar over what the other men had seen as personal “slights,” according to the Associated Press.
Matthews said the group broke down Melgar’s bedroom door and bound his wrists and ankles with duct tape. He said they planned to record Melgar on video to humiliate him. Earlier this year, the second Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer Tony DeDolph, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. His role in the “prank” was to cause Melgar to lose consciousness after placing him in a martial-arts style chokehold, AP reported. Madera-Rodriguez was the only servicemember to take his case to trial.
Melgar’s death has underscored issues of “good order and discipline” among some in the SEAL community. As part of an ongoingearlier this year, active duty and retired SEALs answered questions about Melgar’s death on the condition that their identities were hidden.
“Keep fighting,” one of the SEALs told CBS News, when asked what they would say to Melgar’s family. “Melgar was a warrior. He was a good guy. Those are the kind of guys we need in the military, and we’re not going to purge out the bad ones unless we all stand up together to get them out.”