A SEAL Team 6 member who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the hazing death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar in 2017 was sentenced to 10 years of confinement and a dishonorable discharge, his lawyer confirmed Sunday.
Chief Special Warfare Operator Anthony DeDolph was one of four operators accused in Melgar's death during a deployment to Mali.
According to a written stipulation of fact by a Marine Raider that was reported by the Washington Post in 2019, Melgar died after a violent hazing episode gone horribly wrong. The Raider, Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell, said the four men planned to burst into Melgar's bedroom, choke him until he passed out, and then allow a security Guard from Mali to sexually assault him while they recorded video.
The Daily Beast first reported Dedolph's sentence.
Dedolph's Navy charge sheet alleges he bound Melgar with duct tape, placed him in a choke hold and strangled him.
Defense attorneys have characterized the incident as a prank plan gone bad.
Dedolph pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, obstruction of justice and hazing Jan. 14. According to an Associated Press report from Dedolph's plea hearing, he told the judge the operators had intended to retaliate against Melgar for allegedly hazing other troops by "ditching" them in unsafe places in Mali.
The men had been drinking. Dedolph indicated killing Melgar was never their intent.
"I effectively applied the chokehold as I have done numerous times in training, in combatives, and has been done to me," DeDolph said, according to the AP report.
The sentencing hearing began Jan. 19 in Norfolk.
Dedolph's defense attorney, Phil Stackhouse, confirmed to Military.com that his sentence included 10 years' confinement and reduction to E-1, as well as forfeiture of pay and a dishonorable discharge.
"Objectively, the jury deliberated on a sentence less time than the lawyers argued their points and it would have been virtually impossible for them to do more than a cursory review of the significant volume of critical evidence given to them just when they began," Stackhouse said in a statement. "Because of the confidentiality of the deliberative process, what they reviewed and why they decided on that sentence will remain unknown."
Dedolph's sentence will be appealed, Stackhouse said, and he will petition for parole when eligible.
Maxwell and another operator, Chief Special Warfare Officer Adam Matthews, have already pleaded guilty to charges in connection with Melgar's death. A fourth man, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez, awaits trial.
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.