SEAL Pleads Guilty in 'Tape Job' Death of Green Beret

Chief Petty Officer Tony DeDolph put man in chokehold before death in Mali
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 15, 2021 8:20 AM CST
SEAL Pleads Guilty in 'Tape Job' Death of Green Beret
This photo provided by the US Army shows Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, a Green Beret who died in Mali in June 2017.   (U.S. Army via AP, File)

A Navy SEAL pleaded guilty Thursday to involuntary manslaughter for his role in the hazing death of a Green Beret while the men were stationed in Africa. Chief Petty Officer Tony DeDolph, a member of the elite SEAL Team 6, also offered a detailed account of the night in which he and other servicemembers initiated a prank known as a "tape job" on Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar. DeDolph told a military judge that the men were trying to teach Melgar a lesson over perceived slights while they served in Mali in 2017. But the SEAL said they were soon "in a state of shock and deeply disturbed" after the duct-tape-bound Melgar remained unresponsive for several minutes, the AP reports. DeDolph said his role in the prank was to cause Melgar to temporarily lose consciousness by placing him in a martial-arts-style chokehold.

Melgar lost consciousness in about 10 seconds, but failed to wake up after the typical 30 seconds, the SEAL said. He is the third of four US service members—two SEALs and two Marines—to face a court martial for the death of Melgar. DeDolph said Wednesday that Melgar "had ditched" service members as a "prank." DeDolph said the plan to prank Melgar in return included breaking down Melgar's door with a sledge hammer, binding him with duct tape, and performing the chokehold. Someone was supposed to dance around in a gorilla mask. DeDolph, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, hazing, and obstruction of justice for trying to cover up the cause of death, faces a maximum sentence of 22 1/2 years in prison. (Sources said there was an "ongoing disagreement" between Melgar and the SEALs.)

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