One of the Navy SEALs accused of murdering Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, a Special Forces operator, in Mali in 2017 pled guilty in exchange for his case to be judged by special court-martial.
Chief Special Warfare Officer Adam Matthews reached the pre-trial agreement with the government’s prosecutors earlier this week. Instead of facing a general court-martial, he’ll be referred to a special court-martial. The benefit of choosing this route is the special court-martial is restricted on the punishments it can hand out. For instance, the maximum incarceration penalty is only one year. Additionally, Chief Matthews will be dishonorably discharged from the Navy, along with a reduction in rank—back to E-1 from his current E-7—and receive a pay cut amounting to 66 percent of his salary for one year.
Grover Baxley, Chief Matthews’ civilian attorney, said in a statement to the Navy Times that the SEAL “looks forward to detailing what happened that night in Mali almost two years ago, and hopes that his explanation of events will assist the Melgar family in finding some semblance of closure. Staff Sargent Melgar’s death was an unforeseen accident that has dramatically impacted the lives of everyone involved. SOC Matthews is eager to assist with the Navy’s resolution of this case and then attempting to move on with his life.”
Alongside Chief Matthews’, three more special operators have been accused of murdering Sergeant Melgar: Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Anthony DeDolph, another SEAL for SEAL Team 6; and Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez and Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell, both Marine Raiders from the Marine Special Operations Command.
However, according to court documents, another commando was involved in the murder—an unidentified British operator. Thus far, neither the existence nor the involvement of this individual has been disclosed.
“I cannot describe how sorry I am for the death of Staff Sergeant Melgar,” said Chief Matthews, the statement said, further highlighting the Sergeant Melgar’s death was “tragic and completely unintended.”
The four men were accused of assaulting, binding with duct tape, and choking to death Sergeant Melgar. They were accused of lying to Army and Navy investigators about the incident.
Staff Sergeant Melgar had deployed twice in Afghanistan with the 3rd Special Forces Group. In Mali, he was a member of a joint SOF team that provided security and intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism capabilities to the American Embassy in Bamako.