A member of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 has accepted a plea agreement in connection with an Army Green Beret’s 2017 death, his lawyer said.
Chief Special Warfare Operator Anthony DeDolph, one of four special operators charged in the death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, will plead guilty Jan. 14 to involuntary manslaughter, obstruction of justice and hazing, The Daily Beast reported Monday.
Phil Stackhouse, DeDolph’s lawyer, declined to confirm the charges to which DeDolph may plead guilty, but said the SEAL entered an agreement “to resolve his pending charges.”
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“This agreement will end the contested charges, allowing … DeDolph to accept responsibility for those offenses he can, and mitigate most of the concerns over classified material present in the case,” Stackhouse said.
DeDolph faces a general court-martial on Jan. 14, officials with Navy Region Mid-Atlantic announced Tuesday. The SEAL faces charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice of felony murder; involuntary manslaughter; hazing; conspiracy to commit assault; conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice; burglary; and obstruction of justice, according to a news release.
If found guilty of felony murder, DeDolph 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.
“The military justice system, like the civilian justice system, follows the principle of innocent until proven guilty,” Navy officials said in the release.
Melgar, a 34-year-old Green Beret, died June 4, 2017, in Mali, where he lived with DeDolph and another SEAL, Chief Special Warfare Operator Adam Matthews. The SEALs and two Marine Raiders who lived nearby, Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell and Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madero-Rodriguez, were all charged in connection with Melgar’s death.
DeDolph pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in January 2020. Matthews and Maxwell both pleaded guilty to their roles in 2019. Matthews was sentenced to a year in prison and Maxwell to four years.
Madera-Rodriguez’s general court-martial is scheduled for Feb. 1. He faces charges of felony murder; involuntary manslaughter; hazing; conspiracy to commit assault; conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice; burglary; and making false official statements.
Like DeDolph, if Madera-Rodriguez is found guilty of felony murder, he 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.
Melgar died after the SEALs and Raiders allegedly burst into his room with a sledgehammer and put him in a chokehold. One Marine said they planned to restrain Melgar while a Malian security guard sexually assaulted him, The Washington Post reported in 2019.
Stackhouse previously denied those claims. Maxwell’s civilian defense attorney called the incident a prank gone bad.
Stackhouse said DeDolph’s agreement recognizes that the SEAL never intended to injure Melgar, “but also recognizes the fact that [Staff Sgt.] Melgar died as a result of actions that went tragically wrong on June 4, 2017.”
“The fact that … Melgar’s death was not intentional may not lessen the righteous feelings of grief by family and friends, but perhaps the resolution of this case will further help them find closure and peace,” Stackhouse added.
The agreement also includes language that says DeDolph won’t profit from any publication or dissemination of information during confinement, if any confinement is handed down or served, the attorney said.
“Not that he intended to or intends to,” Stackhouse said, “but it was part of the offer.”
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