A marine will spend 30 days in jail and will have his rank reduced from lance corporal to private first class for hitting and kicking a fellow marine who killed himself shortly thereafter, as the judge presiding over the case determined that the beating bore no relation to the suicide, according to an article on Yahoo News.
21 year-old Lance Corporal Jacob Jacoby, who plead guilty to assault, acknowledged that he punched and kicked Lance Corporal Harry Lew out of anger after Lew repeatedly fell asleep while on watch for Taliban soldiers.
The incidents involved in this case occurred at an isolated U.S. patrol base to disrupt Taliban drug and weapons trafficking in Hemland province.
Jacoby was one of three marines accused of hazing. He told the judge that he wanted to talk to Lew and find a solution to his sleeping problem while on watch. However, Jacoby said that he became enraged after Lew spoke to him disrespectfully, even though Lew was putting the lives of his fellow marines in danger by repeatedly falling asleep.
Lew's squad members had tried many different tactics to prevent him from falling asleep including referring to him to higher-ups for discipline and removing him from some of his watch shifts so that he could get more sleep.
However, the night before Lew killed himself, he fell asleep again, and the frustrated marines punched and kicked him. In addition, they humiliated him by throwing sand in his face and forced him to do push-ups.
A central issue in the case was whether the fellow marines intended to humiliate Lew or whether their actions were of a disciplinary nature.
Before Lew shot himself and ended his life he prepared a note which read "May hate me now, but in the long run this was the right choice I'm sorry my mom deserves the truth."
The judge in Jacoby's special court-martial, Navy Capt. Carrie Stevens, said that there was no evidence that his abuse caused Lew to kill himself and she did not take the suicide into account for sentencing purposes.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors withdrew threat and humiliation charges.
Jacoby has apologized and is remorseful for his actions. In addition, the marines believe that they will be able to rehabilitate him.
I feel that the judge got this case right. The military is a completely different animal that everyday life as fellow soldiers are dependent on one another as a matter of life and death. Nonetheless, members of the military should not be given free reign and thus need order to curtail instances of impermissible conduct.
I am not saying that hazing is right nor do I believe that Jacoby does not serve some sort of punishment. But, I do realize that these men were living in an extremely dangerous situation and accordingly their actions were understandable and maybe even warranted under the circumstances.
There is no way that these men could have known that their actions could have contributed to Lew's death. And, as the judge determined they did not.
What do you think?
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