A generous plea deal has been offered to the first of two Navy SEALS and two Marine Raiders charged in the strangulation death of a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier based in Bamako, Mali.
Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar was found dead on June 4, 2017 in housing he shared with other special operations forces in Mali. Evidence of the murder was covered up by the four servicemen who led investigators on a wild goose chase, claiming that the non-drinking Melgar was drunk and had engaged in “frat-like” behavior that had gotten the soldiers uninvited from events at the U.S. Embassy.
Months went by before a leak in the Washington Post revealed some of the gruesome facts of the killing. Angry that Melgar had accused the SEALs of bringing prostitutes to the off-site embassy housing they shared, the four defendants plotted to rough him up.
According to the now-revealed facts of the case, the foursome broke into Melgar’s locked room where he was sleeping to assault him. A beating ensued during which Melgar was restrained while the gang leader locked Melgar in a chokehold. Within seconds his breathing stopped.
When efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, the servicemen cut open Melgar’s throat, allegedly to establish an airway but, as investigators concluded, to “hide evidence of the injuries inflicted.” His lifeless body was then loaded into one of their cars and brought to a nearby clinic where he was pronounced him dead.
At the time of his death Staff Sgt. Melgar was part of a small team in Bamako assigned to support Malian and French counterterrorism units battling al-Qaida factions in the region.
As part of the plea deal, Chief Special Warfare Officer Adam Matthews will be subjected to a special court-martial rather than a general court martial, which means the maximum is one year in prison, reduction in rank, forfeiture of two-thirds pay for one year, and a bad conduct discharge, according to a press account.
Murder and involuntary manslaughter charges will be dropped if he pleads guilty to hazing, assault consummated by battery, burglary, and conspiracy to obstruct justice charges.
Also facing felony murder and related charges are Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez and Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell along with Navy SEAL Team Six member Petty Officer Anthony DeDolph.
Melgar was nearing the end of his deployment to Mali at the time of his death. He reportedly told his wife he had a ‘bad feeling’ about some of his fellow troops. Melgar was married to Michelle Melgar and was devoted to his two sons, aged 13 and 15 years of age.