Jacob Jacoby, one of the three Marines implicated in the hazing and death of South Bay Marine Harry Lew, may have reached a deal with military prosecutors to plead guilty to lesser charges.
The Associated Press reports Jacoby will no longer face a general court martial, but will instead submit to a "special" court martial. A former military lawyer says such special courts are reserved for minor crimes and misdemeanors.
The Marine Corp has not explained the move, but has said the supervising officers in the prosecution had signed off on the deal.
Jacoby and two others were accused of hazing Lew, a 2008 Santa Clara High School graduate while their unit was assigned to Afghanistan. Reports say Lew repeatedly fell asleep while on guard duty in enemy territory, angering his fellow Marines.
A criminal investigation said Jacoby and fellow Marines Benjamin Johns and Carlos Orozco beat Lew several times and at one point demanded Lew to perform various physical tasks as punishment and would "stomp down" on Lew's back and legs if he failed to do an exercise properly.
"Towards the end of the physical training," the criminal investigation determined, "a sandbag broke open at which point lance corporal [redacted] picked it up and poured the contents on Lew's chest and face as he lay with his back to the ground." Then Lew's fellow lance corporals "kicked dirt on Lew, kicked him in the back of the helmet, punched him in the back of his helmet with a force that cut [his attacker's] knuckle."
Charges filed indicate Jacoby was the man who attacked Lew from behind. At some point, a fellow marine stepped in to stop the attack, saying he didn't "want it on his conscience if Lew killed himself."
Lew then did commit suicide, by firing his machine gun into his mouth. He wrote on his arm "may hate me now, but in the long run this was the right choice I'm sorry my mom deserves the truth."
Jacoby will face the reduced court martial Monday; Orozco and Johns face a full court martial in April.
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