The two remaining co-defendants charged in the strangulation murder of a Green Beret staff sergeant while on deployment in Africa now have trial dates set for early 2020.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez and Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator Tony E. DeDolph both face the possibility of life in prison if convicted in the June 4, 2017, death of Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar.
Each faces a general court-martial on their charges.
Madera-Rodriguez was arraigned on charges of conspiracy to assault and battery, obstruction of justice, burglary, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, hazing orders violation and making a false official statement, according to court records. DeDolph was scheduled for arraignment in January.
Dedolph’s trial is scheduled in Norfolk, Virginia, from March 23 to April 3. Madera-Rodriguez’s trial is set for April 20 to May 1, according to a press release from Navy Region Mid-Atlantic public affairs.
“If found guilty of felony murder, each could face life in federal prison without parole, reduction in rank to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and either a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge,” according to the press release.
Co-defendants Marine Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell Jr., 29, and Navy SEAL Adam C. Matthews, 33, both pleaded guilty to lesser charges earlier in 2019.
Maxwell was sentenced to four years in military prison after having been charged with negligent homicide, hazing and making false official statements.
Matthews was the first to plea and laid out previously unconfirmed details about Melgar’s death in offsite embassy housing in Bamako, Mali, where all five men were serving on duties to counter local extremist militia activities. Matthews received a year of confinement and bad conduct discharge for his role in the death.
He told the court that he, Maxwell, DeDolph and Madera-Rodriguez and an unidentified British special operator together planned to break into Melgar’s room, restrain him, duct tape him and video record him in a sexually embarrassing incident all in retaliation for what the group perceived as personal slights made by Melgar during the preceding deployment, which was nearing an end.
He testified that DeDolph placed Melgar in a chokehold while the others attempted to restrain him. But during the assault, Melgar stopped breathing. He said the men attempted to revive him but were unsuccessful.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.