Trials for a Navy SEAL and Marine Raider charged in the strangulation death of a Green Beret staff sergeant have been moved to later this year at the request of their defense attorneys.
Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator Tony E. DeDolph’s trial was scheduled for March 23 to April 3 but has been moved to mid-July, according to a Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs release Wednesday.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez’s trial was scheduled for April 20 to May 1 but has been moved to early September, according to the release.
The two men face general courts-martial for their alleged roles in the death of Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar while they were serving together on deployment in Bamako, Mali, on June 4, 2017.
Both men made their initial appearances in an Article 32 preliminary hearing on Aug. 5, 2019.
DeDolph faces charges of conspiracy, assault, obstruction of justice, burglary, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, hazing and obstruction of justice.
Madera-Rodriguez’s charges include conspiracy, assault, obstruction of justice, burglary, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, hazing and false official statements.
If convicted of felony murder, either could face life in prison without parole, reduction in rank to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and either dishonorable or bad conduct discharge, according to the Navy statement.
Two other co-defendants involved in Melgar’s death have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced.
Marine Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell Jr. and Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator Adam C. Matthews pleaded guilty to lesser charges in 2019. Both agreed to testify on behalf of the government the remaining cases.
Maxwell was sentenced to four years in military prison. Matthews was the first to plead guilty and laid out previously unconfirmed details about the hours leading up to and the events surrounding Melgar’s death. He receive one year confinement and a bad conduct discharge.
He testified that he, Maxwell, DeDolph, Madera-Rodriguez and an unidentified British special operator planned to break into Melgar’s room, duct tape him and video record him in a sexually embarrassing incident.
The acts were all in retaliation for what the group had perceived as slights made by Melgar during the preceding deployment, which was nearing an end.
One such incident described from earlier that evening included Melgar driving by two of the men on his way to a U.S. embassy party, but failing to acknowledge them.
In the weeks leading up to his death, Melgar had told his wife that he wasn’t comfortable with the behavior of some of the other troops, but didn’t share details.
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.