A Navy SEAL pleaded guilty to his role in the 2017 strangulation death of an Army Green Beret in Mali during a hazing attempt gone horribly wrong — and will spend a year in military prison, according to a new report.
Chief Petty Officer Adam Matthews, 33, confessed Thursday that he — along with three other special operators serving in the capital city of Bamako — conspired to break into Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar’s private room with a sledgehammer, restrain him with duct tape and film him in an attempt to embarrass him, Stars and Stripes reported.
Matthews accepted a deal from prosecutors to avoid murder charges — and pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit assault and battery, unlawful entry and lying to investigators about those involved in Melgar’s death, the outlet reported.
“I’ve carried the weight of Staff Sgt. Melgar’s death every minute of every day since that night in Mali,” Matthews said, according to NBC.
“I am truly sorry,” he told the court.
As he was being sentenced, friends and family described Matthews as that “100-pound kid who wanted to be a Navy SEAL that nobody thought could be,” according to the report.
He earned a Purple Heart after suffering injuries in Afghanistan.
Melgar’s wife, Michelle Melgar, expressed that her husband had often vented about “immature” SEALs. Still, she thanked Matthews for speaking the truth.
But the Green Beret’s mom, Nitza Melgar, blasted Matthews: “You are a disgrace to your Purple Heart,” according to the report.
Matthews and the other servicemen hashed out the “juvenile” plan against Melgar over late-night drinks and food, he told the judge. They’d never planned to kill Melgar, but only to “remediate” him for what they viewed as performance issues and a “slight” from the night before, Matthews added, according to Stars and Stripes.
Melgar died as a result of a chokehold by Chief Petty Officer Tony DeDolph, prosecutors said, the outlet reported.
Matthews agreed to testify in the cases against DeDolph, as well as Marine Raiders Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez and Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell Jr., the other accused service members, according to the report.
Matthews could face a military discharge for bad conduct, which would cost him his veteran’s benefits, NBC reported.
But Judge Capt. Michael Luken said an admiral will ultimately make that decision — which will depend on Matthews’ cooperation and feedback from Melgar’s family, the outlet reported.