Second Marine acquitted in hazing that led to suicide

HONOLULU Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:58pm EST

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HONOLULU (Reuters) - The last of three U.S. Marines court-martialed on charges they physically abused and humiliated a fellow Marine who later killed himself was acquitted on Friday of all charges in the case by a military jury.

The case stems from the suicide of Lance Corporal Harry Lew, 21, who shot himself with his automatic rifle in Afghanistan last April after he was allegedly beaten and hazed by others in his unit for falling asleep while on sentry duty.

A suicide note that read, "May hate me now, but in the long run this was the right choice I'm sorry my mom deserves the truth," was found scrawled on Lew's arm, according to an investigative report cited by the Marine Corps Times newspaper.

Lew, the nephew of a California Congresswoman, and the three men charged with abusing him were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, a unit stationed at the marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay on Oahu.

Capping a four-day court-martial that ended on Friday, a panel of three officers and five enlisted personnel found Lance Corporal Carlos Orozco not guilty of assault, maltreatment, dereliction of duty and wrongfully humiliating Lew.

On February 9, Orozco's co-defendant and squad leader, Sergeant Benjamin Johns, was acquitted of the charges against him -- dereliction and humiliating Lew.

The first Marine court-martialed in the case, Lance Corporal Jacob Jacoby, pleaded guilty on January 31 to assaulting Lew by repeatedly kicking and punching him, and he was sentenced to 30 days of confinement and a demotion.

Lew was the nephew of U.S. Representative Judy Chu, a Democrat from El Monte California, who attended the court-martial proceedings against Jacoby.

Captain Michael Regner, the company commander who oversaw Lew and other Marines, testified at a hearing last year that he saw Lew asleep on watch as he approached the patrol base the night of the incident, a situation he said would leave the unit more vulnerable to attack.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Tim Gaynor)

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Comments (2)
FatherJames wrote:
…In point of fact there were multiple instances of this individual falling asleep on post. Command should have immediately taken him into custody and had him examined by doctors in camp hospital. Absent a medical condition he should have been court martialed and sent to prison.
…Instead, he was subjected to vigilante justice… which is absolutely nuts as well as illegal. You just beat the snot out of a multiple offender… and now you place him and his assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of 5.56mm ammuntion on the line… in pain and with a cosmic gripe…
…Fortunately, those who decided that *they* were the law *have* been subjected to medical exams… They have had lawyers and due process… No one was allowed to kick them in the ribs and head…
…The “chest beaters” will grunt that his “crime” justifies the gross violation of duty and vigilante action in defiance of laws that Marines swear to uphold… But of course he did not have a medical exam or lawyers or due process…
…Someone who is caught doing something as egregious as sleeping on post in a combat area so many times is either medically or mentally unfit… or else is the worst kind of criminal who should be spending many years in prison. But we will never know…

Feb 25, 2012 12:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
JamVee wrote:
They post guards, to avoid sneak attacks by the enemy.

Knocking the crap out of a guy, that falls asleep on guard duty, is fully justifiable, in my book. I don’t know how it can even be called “Hazing”. A slacker like that endangers everyone in the general vicinity . . .

Feb 25, 2012 12:34pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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