Author Calvin Shomaker | Published May 27, 2021 by The Jacksonville Daily News
The trials for the trio known as the MARSOC 3 have been delayed for a third time bearing the availability of a foreign witness, according to U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). The three are being tried for alleged involvement in the death of a defense contractor.
Chief Petty Officer Eric Gilmet, Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Draher and Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Negron face charges including involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide that stem from an incident occurring outside an Iraq club in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2019.
The MARSOC 3 have been removed from their Raider teams, had their security clearances suspended, promotions put on hold and special duty pay terminated, according to United American Patriots (UAP). Additional charges include obstruction of justice and violating orders.
UAP funds legal representation for U.S. service members they feel were wrongfully accused of committing crimes, such as the MARSOC 3, and says the indefinite continuance of the trials is due to the unavailability of a medical expert.
“Since the onus is on the prosecution team to produce this key witness, if they cannot do so, this trial and all charges need to be dismissed immediately, not months or years down the road,” UAP said. “The defendants have been waiting for more than two years to go to trial, and they are being castigated personally and professionally during this unprecedented period of waiting in limbo.”
Based on video footage and legal documents obtained by UAP, a defense contractor initiated a confrontation with the MARSOC 3 and landed two punches before Negron struck the contractor identified as Rick Anthony Rodriguez, a retired Green Beret, with a knockout blow.
The three then took Rodriguez back to their base to look after him before seeking medical care later that morning, reported Marine Corps Times. Days later, Rodriguez died from complications related to intoxication after having choked on his own vomit, according to UAP.
UAP has said the case is “one of the biggest military injustices in modern American history” and is advocating for Congress to replace the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which they’ve called “deeply flawed” due to the power it gives commanders and the rights they say it denies service members.
Gilmet faces a court-martial while Draher and Negron will be tried simultaneously in common trial courts-martial. The trials were previously scheduled for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
Author Calvin Shomaker can be reached by email at [email protected]