MARSOC (Marine Forces Special Operations Command) has confirmed the release of updated charge sheets for three Marine Raiders – Gunnery Sergeant Joshua Negron, Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Draher, and Chief Petty Officer Eric Gilmet – also known as the MARSOC 3.
Each Raider has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, obstructing justice, and violations of orders. The charges stem from an incident that took place in Erbil, Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) on New Year’s Eve, 2018.
According to video footage – and legal documents obtained from the case’s Article 32 preliminary hearing – an inebriated military contractor initiated a physical confrontation with the Raiders. After the contractor, a retired Green Beret, landed two punches and was in the process of throwing a third, one of the Raiders stepped in to defend his fellow Raider from receiving additional harm and knocked the contractor out with one punch.
After the contractor’s friends dispersed, the Raiders cared for the contractor through the night until he unexpectedly became unresponsive. Four days later the contractor died of complications stemming from his intoxicated state and from having choked on his own vomit.
The newly released charge sheets include no changes to the list first released in 2019 despite unanswered media questions about several of the charges.
MARSOC’s Communication Strategy Office has yet to answer questions about the convening authority’s decision to move forward with recommending obstruction of justice charges after Article 32’s Preliminary Hearing Officer found that there was no probable cause.
Additionally, questions about why the MARSOC convening authority opted for a general court-martial instead of a lesser form of trial are still to be answered.
The first of the new trial dates is for CPO Eric Gilmet. Originally scheduled for Q3 2020, then pushed to Q4, his court-martial is now scheduled for March 1-19, 2021 at Camp Lejeune, NC.
With the more complicated common trial, defendants are tried at the same time, but they receive separate rulings and even have separate juries. A joint trial would have seen the defendants receive the same rulings and jury.
MARSOC has not yet responded to submitted questions about why the command chose a common trial for Draher and Negron over a joint trial. Draher, Negron, and Gilmet were sent to a joint trial for the Article 32 hearing, so it is unclear why they would not also be tried together for the court-martial.
Due to COVID-19 still spiking around the country, it is unclear, at this time, whether the court-martials will experience further delays.
Requests from members of Congress have been submitted to President Trump, the ultimate convening authority, asking that he use his authority and statutory powers to dismiss this case and all charges with prejudice. Those requests are currently under consideration.