Marine Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell faces a general court-martial at Naval Station Norfolk at which he is expected to make the plea, which was arranged through negotiations with military prosecutors.
Maxwell, along with another Raider and two Navy SEALs, faced murder and related charges in the June 4, 2017, strangulation death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar. Another defendant, Chief Petty Officer Adam Matthews, pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy, unlawful entry, hazing, obstruction of justice and assault with battery.
Matthews was sentenced to reduction of rank from E7 to E5, confinement for 12 months and a bad conduct discharge. The discharge may change if he goes through with his plea agreement to provide testimony against his co-defendants and if the Melgar family agrees to another discharge type.
In his May hearing, Matthews detailed how he along with Maxwell, Navy SEAL Petty Officer Anthony DeDolph and Marine Raider Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez planned to surprise Melgar in the housing he shared with the SEALs, duct tape him and then video record the incident to embarrass Melgar.
The act was described as a way to teach Melgar a lesson after he allegedly snubbed the two Marines while on his way to a party at the French Embassy.
Matthews testified that DeDolph awakened Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Morris to ask his permission to conduct the hazing. Matthews testified that Morris agreed to the hazing but didn’t want to participate and went back to sleep.
The foursome used a sledgehammer sometime near 5 a.m. to break open Melgar’s door and shock him. He awakened immediately, and DeDolph, a former professional mixed martial arts fighter, then pounced on Melgar and put him in a choke hold. The other three men secured his arms and legs and began to duct tape him.
But Melgar stopped breathing.
The four then began attempts to use first CPR then a field expedient tracheotomy to try to revive him before taking him to a nearby clinic where he was pronounced dead.
DeDolph and Madera-Rodriguez still face charges and no court date has yet been set for their Article 32 preliminary hearing.
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.