NORFOLK, Va. - Marine Private Kevin Maxwell testified a group planned to molest Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar and record it during a hazing incident in Mali in 2017.
Melgar died during the incident, which involved Marines and Navy SEALs. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez and Navy SEAL Tony DeDolph faced a preliminary hearing on Monday. The hearing will help determine whether there's enough evidence for them to face court martial.
Maxwell has already pleaded guilty and is serving four years in military prison for his role in the incident. Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator Adam Matthews is spending a year in confinement following his guilty plea.
Courtroom testimony and charging documents indicate DeDolph is the one who choked out Melgar. The group has said his death was an accident and they didn't intend for things to go so far.
DeDolph and Rodriguez still face murder charges with the possibility of life in prison without parole if convicted.
The group decided to haze Melgar following a night of drinking, according to courtroom testimony. Some members had gotten into a dispute with Melgar. In the early morning hours of June 4, 2017, they broke into Melgar's room with a sledgehammer.
Maxwell testified the group planned to pull Melgar's pants down, molest him, and record it. Matthews explained it differently, saying a Malian guard would threaten to touch him sexually.
Prosecutors sought to add a sex crime related charge, but a the Hearing Officer rejected the request citing a lack of evidence, according to DeDolph's attorney.
When the group went in, Melgar resisted as the group tried to duct tape his limbs together. Eventually, Meglar became unresponsive.
The group tried to render first aid, including CPR and even cutting a hole in his throat to get him air, but they weren't successful. Melgar died.
A Navy officer will recommend whether or not Rodriguez and DeDolph should face court martial. Rear Adm. Chip Rock will make the final determination. The process could take a few weeks, a Navy spokesperson said.