Written by Calvin Shomaker for The Jacksonville Daily News
Three members of Congress have written top-tier military leaders over ongoing cases involving three service members from Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC).
On Jan. 26, Representatives Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) and Daniel Webster (R-FL) penned a letter to the Secretary of the Navy and Commandant of the Marine Corps addressing allegations that a Marine colonel’s comments may have jeopardized the fairness of the service members’ trials.
U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Eric Gilmet and Marines Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Draher and Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Negron, known as the MARSOC 3, face charges including negligent homicide and involuntary manslaughter.
On Jan. 1, 2019, a defense contractor allegedly initiated a confrontation with the three at an Iraq bar before suffering a knockout blow from Negron, according to reports from United American Patriots (UAP) and the Marine Corps Times.
The contractor, identified as Rick Anthony Rodriguez, was taken back to base by the MARSOC 3, and died days later “of complications stemming from his intoxicated state and from having choked on his own vomit,” a UAP report stated.
In December, Gilmet’s defense team filed a motion to permanently dismiss all charges and specifications due to Unlawful Command Influence (UCI), UAP said in a news release. According to the release, the defense claims statements made by Col. Christopher Shaw “prejudiced the attorney-client relationship between” Gilmet and his military counsel.
The motion to dismiss said Gilmet “has lost trust and confidence in the military justice system” and “doubts” his military counsel’s “ability to effectively represent him without fear of reprisal” due to Shaw’s comments.
According to UAP, a nonprofit supporting the MARSOC 3, Gilmet’s attorney Capt. Matthew Thomas had asked Shaw about protecting military attorneys from outside influences, to which Shaw allegedly responded: “Captain Thomas, I know who you are and what cases you are on, and you are not protected,” the motion said.