U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 member Tony DeDolph was sentenced over the weekend to 10 years in prison for the June 2017 hazing death of U.S. Army Green Beret Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar.
The Virginian Pilot reported DeDolph was also demoted from the rank of chief petty officer to seaman, and will be dishonorably discharged and will have to forfeit pay.
DeDolph’s sentence comes more than a week after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Melgar’s death.
DeDolph, Chief SWO Adam C. Matthews, U.S. Marine Raider Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell Jr. and Marine Raider Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez were all in the west African country of Mali in 2017 as part of a security mission with the U.S. embassy there. Melgar was also in the country as part of the security mission.
DeDolph, Matthews, Maxwell and Rodriguez are alleged to have broken into Melgar’s residence and restrained him. It is during this incident DeDolph, a former professional mixed martial arts fighter put Melgar into a chokehold, killing him unexpectedly.
DeDolph, Matthews and Maxwell have all plead guilty in connection with Melgar’s death.
Matthews was the first defendant to plead guilty to some of the charges in the case. Matthews faced the same charges as DeDolph and ultimately plead guilty to conspiracy, unlawful entry, hazing, obstruction of justice and assault with battery.
Matthews testified in a May 2019 court hearing that the plan to haze Melgar came together after he had been in Mali for just 24 hours when DeDolph told him he had problems with Melgar that he wanted to correct.
Maxwell was the second defendant to plead guilty to negligent homicide, hazing and making false official statements. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
While DeDolph had been charged conspiracy, assault, hazing, obstruction of justice, burglary, involuntary manslaughter and felony murder charges. DeDolph plead to manslaughter as part of an agreement for other charges to be dropped.
DeDolph’s attorney Phillip Stackhouse said, “The fact that SSG Melgar’s death was not intentional may not lessen the righteous feelings of grief by family and friends, but perhaps the resolution of this case will further help them find closure and peace.”
DeDolph also pleaded guilty to hazing, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges.
Witnesses in the case testified that tension between Melgar and the other special operations troops reportedly came after Melgar had become annoyed by the SEALs and Marines’ “juvenile” behavior and Melgar couldn’t wait to conclude his deployment and return home in the coming weeks before he died.
Matthews testified that after Melgar died, the four men began planning how to obscure the circumstances of his death. Matthews testified he and DeDolph planned to take responsibility for Melgar’s death and not mention the Marines involved. The SEALs then reportedly lied to investigators and said Melgar died after participating in hand-to-hand combat training while he was intoxicated.