A Marine Corps drill instructor’s fate is in the hands of a jury after they heard testimony that he abused his authority and his new recruits by beating, stomping and choking them, and especially targeting Muslim-Americans who had volunteered to serve in the Marines.
Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix’s fate rests in the hands of an eight-member jury. Felix a veteran of Iraq was the worst abuser in an abusive group of drill instructors at the Parris Island, South Carolina, boot camp.
Felix was charged after the Marines investigated what drove one of his Muslim trainees at the boot camp to commit suicide in March 2016.
Investigators found unchecked abuse of recruits by junior drill instructors at the training depot. Six drill instructors, including Felix, were charged and the training battalion’s commanding officer fired. A court-martial for Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon is scheduled for March. Eleven others faced lesser, administrative discipline, Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Joshua Pena said.
Felix is accused of maltreating three Muslim recruits. Raheel Siddiqui, a 20-year-old Pakistani-American from Taylor, Michigan, committed suicide in March 2016 by jumping off a stairwell after Felix barked at and slapped him, prosecutors said. Siddiqui’s family has filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Marine Corps.
Felix also is accused of obstruction of justice for telling recruits not to cooperate with investigators after the suicide. He’s also charged with drunk and disorderly conduct, making false official statements. He pleaded not guilty.
Felix allegedly was drunk on duty and abused his troops, punching them and choking them. He ordered one trainee into a clothes dryer and kept him burning his body on the very hot surface of the dryer until he renounced his Muslim religion.
Felix faces prison time if he’s convicted, and/or expulsion from the Corps as well as fines and a dishonorable discharge.
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