Marine guilty of assault in court-martial linked to suicide

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 30, 2012 11:08 PM
Marine guilty of assault in court-martial linked to suicide

By Jorene Barut

HONOLULU (Reuters) - A Marine pleaded guilty on Monday in a court-martial hearing to assault on a fellow Marine, who killed himself in Afghanistan shortly after suffering the attack.

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.

Following Jacoby's agreement to plead guilty to assault in an attack on Lance Corporal Harry Lew, 21, a charge that Jacoby humiliated Lew, and another accusation that he threatened the Marine were withdrawn, Hill said.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 still pending for two other Marines who were also charged with abusing Lew.

The allegations of assault that Jacoby pleaded guilty to indicate he struck Lew in the back with his foot and hit 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 often involves less severe punishment than a general court-martial.

He faces a maximum sentence of one year of confinement, and the proceeding was due to continue on Monday with the sentencing phase, Hill said.

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.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Greg McCune)