January 31, 2012 / 4:10 AM / in 6 years

Marine whose hazing led to a suicide is jailed, demoted

HONOLULU (Reuters) - A court-martial sentenced a Marine to 30 days of confinement and a demotion after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a fellow Marine who killed himself upon being beaten and hazed in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Jacob Jacoby entered his plea during the special court-martial proceeding on Monday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe, on the island of Oahu, said Marine Corps spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Curtis Hill.

The sentence came down later on Monday night, reducing Jacoby’s pay grade to Private First Class from Lance Corporal for the assault against Lance Corporal Harry Lew, 21.

After Jacoby agreed to plead guilty, charges that Jacoby humiliated Lew and another that he threatened the Marine were withdrawn, Hill said.

Lew shot himself with his automatic rifle in Afghanistan during a patrol in April 2011 after an incident in which military prosecutors said he was beaten and hazed by others in his unit for falling asleep while on sentry duty.

Lew was the nephew of U.S. Representative Judy Chu, a Democrat who represents El Monte, California, and surrounding areas. Chu attended the special court-martial proceeding on Monday in Hawaii, Hill said.

Special court-martial proceedings are pending for two other Marines charged with abusing Lew.

Jacoby pleaded guilty to striking Lew in the back with his foot and hitting the helmeted Marine in the head with his foot and a closed fist.

Jacoby’s case on Monday was held before a special court-martial, which typically involves less severe punishment than a general court-martial.

He faced a maximum sentence of one year of confinement.

Captain Michael Regner, the company commander who oversaw Lew and other Marines, testified at a hearing last year 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 Lauren Keiper and Daniel Trotta

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