Since an Article 32 hearing was postponed in March for the two Navy SEALs and two Marine Raiders charged with murder in the death of a Green Beret in Mali, no new public information about the case has been released.
But recent reporting has revealed further details that continue to support much of early media depictions of what might have happened on the morning of June 4, 2017, that led to the death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar.
This week the Washington Post reported from court documents it obtained, known as “stipulations of fact,” laying out a narrative based on witness and defendant statements to investigators and conclusions that military investigators reached, which lead to the criminal charges.
Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez and Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell along with Navy SEAL Team Six members Chief Petty Officer Adam Matthews and Petty Officer Anthony DeDolph faced the following charges in Melgar’s strangulation death ― felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, hazing and burglary.
Attorneys for the defendant have declined to comment on specifics of the pending case.
Matthews’ attorney, Grover Baxley, told Military Times this week that his client has reached a pretrial agreement. That agreement includes Matthew’s pleading to charges of hazing and assault. As a result, he will face special court-martial, which likely reduces his punishment to less than a year confinement.
Maxwell’s attorney Brian Bouffard told Military Times that his client is also negotiating a plea deal. He did not disclose any further information about the negotiations.
“SSgt Maxwell never intended to place SSG Melgar’s life in danger,” Bouffard wrote in an email to Military Times. “I don’t believe any of these four men did. This was an avoidable tragedy, and SSgt Maxwell is deeply remorseful for his role in it.”
Attorneys Colby Vokey and Phillip Stackhouse, representing Madera-Rodriguez and DeDolph, respectively, said previously that their clients were not negotiating deals at the time.
Public affairs personnel from the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic office, which is handling communications for the proceedings, could not comment on the pending court case. There has not yet been a court date set since the March postponement, the office confirmed.
Melgar’s death appears to have occurred after what has been described as a botched hazing session that the four defendants planned and executed to retaliate against perceived slights by Melgar against the team and their behavior at the isolated posting in Bamako, Mali.
The Post reported that weeks before the incident that Melgar brought foreigners to housing where he, DeDolph and another SEAL who was not charged, lived. Melgar had engaged in “frat-like” behavior that had gotten both he and another soldier who also lived with Melgar uninvited from events at the U.S. Embassy.
That soldier also told investigators that they had been prohibited from entering the SEALs’ operations center over the behavior.
Despite reports that Melgar did not drink alcohol, the soldier also told investigators that he, Melgar and everyone involved had participated in excessive drinking during the deployment. That is a violation of alcohol prohibitions while on deployment.
The Daily Beast has previously reported that Melgar had accused the SEALs of bringing prostitutes to the house.
The Post reported that the SEALs and Raiders began planning to haze Melgar while drinking both at a bar called Appaloosa and at a nightclub called Byblos.
This was shared with investigators by both troops involved in the case and other witnesses, the Post reported.
Months later the soldier who lived with Melgar told investigators that Melgar had returned to their housing hours after leaving the SEALs and Raiders behind while headed to a party at the French Embassy.
The soldier said that Melgar had had two or three beers while at the embassy party.
Meanwhile, the defendants decided that the party snub was the final act in ongoing friction that had be addressed.
In court documents Matthews told investigators that he and the three other defendants decided to tape up Melgar when they got back to the residence, the Post reported. The Raiders brought duct tape and a sledgehammer from their nearby residence.
“The sledgehammer was not required for us to gain entrance to SSGT Melgar’s room, but we used it because we thought that the noise associated with it would further surprise him,” wrote Matthews, according to the Post.
DeDolph jumped on Melgar and locked him in a chokehold on his bed, two of the defendants told investigators. Matthews grabbed Melgar’s legs and the Raiders went to duct tape the legs, the Post reported.
But within seconds they realized Melgar had stopped breathing.
The jumped into rescue mode, trying to revive him, Matthews told investigators.
“He remained unresponsive, so we laid him back down and I began rescue breaths while the tape was cut off of him,” Matthews said, according to the Post.
They continued CPR.
“His chest rose and fell from my rescue breaths, and during one of the breaths, I saw red-tinted spittle come out of his mouth and hit me in the face,” Matthews said, according to the Post.
They also tried a defibrillator and cut open his throat in an emergency procedure to establish and airway.
Instead of calling an ambulance, which might take too long, they took him to a nearby clinic.
Clinical staff pronounced him dead.
The four defendants then decided that the two SEALs would tell investigators about their involvement but not disclose what the Raiders had contributed, according to the Post.
They then cleaned up the area, trashing all the alcohol they could find in the residence. A State Department security officer entered Melgar’s room with Madera-Rodriguez as a witness, not knowing his witness would later be a defendant in the homicide case, the Post reported.
When another security officer arrived he later told investigators that Matthews was shirtless and had “blood all over his hands,” the Post reported.
DeDolph, who also had blood on his hands, said they’d been wrestling and he was “pacing, in a state of shock, repeating himself and ‘not lucid,’” according to the Post.
A woman, working with the U.S. government in Mali and who spoke with investigators told them she was with DeDolph after the incident and he told her he “kills people for a living, but not Americans.”
Text messages in the court documents obtained by the Post report that Madera-Rodriguez told the same woman who had been out with the foursome drinking the night of the incident, that he thinks “about Logan’s family all the time” and that DeDolph was “out of his mind” after Melgar died.
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.