2nd Marine found not guilty over suicide of lance corporal in Afghanistan


A lance corporal has been found not guilty by a military jury of hazing a fellow lance corporal, who killed himself in Afghanistan.

The case, Reuters wrote, arose from the Apr. 3 suicide of Lance Corporal Harry Lew, 21 at a remote patrol base in Helmand Province.

Lew, from Santa Clara in Northern California, shot himself with his automatic rifle after he was allegedly beaten and hazed by others in his unit for falling asleep while on sentry duty.

According to an investigative report cited by the Marine Corps Times newspaper, a suicide note was found scrawled on Lew's arm that read: "May hate me now, but in the long run this was the right choice I'm sorry my mom deserves the truth." 

The LA Times reported that since Lew's death, his aunt Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) had called for congressional hearings on hazing in the military.

The Associated Press reported that the panel of three officers and five enlisted Marines found Lance Corporal Carlos Orozco III not guilty at a court-martial at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay on Friday.

Orozco was the last of three Marines to be tried in the case, and accused of humiliating and demeaning Lew by pouring sand on his face and forcing him to do push-ups.

Orozco was also acquitted of charges involving the assault, cruel treatment and humiliation of Lew, of California, the AP reported.

Orozco's co-defendant and squad leader, Sergeant Benjamin Johns, was acquitted of the charges against him — dereliction and humiliating Lew — on Feb. 9.

Lance Corporal Jacob Jacoby pleaded guilty on Jan. 31 to assaulting Lew by repeatedly kicking and punching him, and was sentenced to 30 days of confinement and a demotion.

Defense attorney Captain Aaron Meyer told jurors that Orozco was only trying to keep Lew awake so their base wouldn't be attacked by Taliban fighters.

"This was Orozco trying to keep active and keep motivated his friend," Meyer said in closing arguments. "It has nothing to do with hazing." 

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