LUBBOCK, TX -- More than four years after U.S. Army Sgt. Logan Melgar was strangled to death, a Marine was found guilty in connection to his death.
According to court documents, the victim was a Lubbock native and a Green Beret assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group. Melgar was deployed to Bamako, Mali at the time of his death.
According to authorities, five service members broke into Melgar's room as he slept with the plan to subdue him, duct tape him, and video the incident to embarrass him. The group had recruited the help of a Malain man with a belt tied around his neck to simulate a leash in order to take compromising pictures with the victim.
The investigation revealed that when the victim attempted to fight the group someone put him in a chokehold face down on the bed as the others taped his wrist and ankles. Melgar stopped breathing and was strangled to death while he was in a chokehold. The group attempted to revive Melgar by performing CPR, but that was unsuccessful. They also attempted a field-expedient tracheotomy and ultimately transported the victim to a nearby clinic where he was pronounced dead.
Back in 2019, Navy SEAL Chief Special Warfare Officer Adam C. Matthews pleaded to charges of conspiracy, unlawful entry, hazing, obstruction of justice, and assault with battery. He was sentenced to one year of confinement and a bad-conduct discharge. Matthews had originally had been charged with murder.
During a court hearing, Matthews admitted that along with himself, Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez, Navy SEAL Chief Special Warfare Officer Tony E. DeDolph, Marine Raider Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell Jr. and an unnamed British special operator planned the hazing after the victim allegedly drove by some of the men while on his way to a party at the French Embassy without stopping to pick them up.
Court documents show DeDolph pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was dishonorably discharged and faced forfeiture of pay. He was the individual that put the victim in the chokehold.
Maxwell Jr. pleaded guilty to negligent homicide, conspiracy to commit assault, hazing, obstruction of justice, and making false official statements. He was sentenced to four years of confinement and a bad-conduct discharge.
Madera-Rodriguez pleaded not guilty and went to trial to face the charges. Court documents showed he was responsible for battering down the victim's door and playing loud music.
His attorney alleged the incident was essentially a hazing incident gone wrong. But the subsequent investigation showed all those involved began various attempts to cover up the incident.
The SEALs claimed they had been practicing hand-to-hand combat drills in the early morning hours with the victim. They alleged Melgar has stopped breathing at that time. They later claimed Melgar had been drinking -- a claim refuted by his friends who stated the victim didn't drink alcohol.
On Friday, a jury found Madera-Rodriguez was guilty of involuntary manslaughter, but not guilty of felony murder. His sentencing is expected to occur in the coming weeks.
Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar graduated from Frenship High School in 2001 and was deployed twice to Afghanistan. He was 34-years-old at the time of his death.