Marine Maj. Gen. Matthew Trollinger, head of Marine Forces Special Operations Command, has withdrawn one specification of an involuntary manslaughter charge against Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Draher, who is one of the “MARSOC 3” accused of killing a former Green Beret in Iraq, said MARSOC spokesman Maj. Matthew Finnerty.
Trollinger is the convening authority for the trial of Draher and Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Negron, who are two of the three special operators facing charges in connection with the death of Rick Anthony Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was working as a civilian contractor for Lockheed Martin when he died. He had served in the Army from 1991 until 2012 during which he deployed to Afghanistan four times. Rodriguez’s military awards included the Bronze Star with “V” device for valor along with four other Bronze Star medals. He left the Army as a master sergeant.
Draher is still charged with one specification of involuntary manslaughter along with a charge of negligent homicide, Finnerty told Task & Purpose on Tuesday.
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Attorneys for Draher and Negron have argued that they defended themselves after Rodriguez allegedly attacked Draher.
“When Gunnery Sgt. Draher acted in self-defense by pushing Mr. Rodriguez; that he was savagely attacked by Mr. Rodriguez, and Gunnery Sgt. Negron came to his aid, to his defense,” Draher’s attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, previously told Task & Purpose. “That is the same thing I told the jury in opening statements, supported by video evidence.”
A third special operator, Navy Chief Petty Officer Eric Gilmet, was also initially charged in connection with Rodriguez’s death. A military judge dismissed those charges in February 2022, but an appeals court reinstated the charges that August. Gilmet has filed an appeal and he has been granted immunity to testify at Draher and Negron’s trial.
All three men are collectively referred to by their supporters as the “MARSOC 3.” They were assigned to the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion on Jan. 1, 2019, when they got into a physical altercation with Rodriguez outside of a bar in Erbil, Iraq. Negron punched Rodriguez and he fell to the ground. The three men then took Rodriguez as he was unconscious to his on-base quarters, where a co-worker monitored him.
Several hours later, Rodriguez began having problems breathing. Gilmet treated him and then Rodriguez was taken to an on-base trauma center, Stackhouse told Task & Purpose in 2019. Rodriguez was then medically evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany, where he died on Jan. 4, 2019.
On Tuesday, Stackhouse told Task & Purpose that the recently withdrawn specification of the involuntary manslaughter charge against Draher was originally filed in connection with the fight outside the bar.
“The remaining manslaughter/negligent homicide charge deals with whether Draher acted reasonably in taking Rodriguez back to the camp to be evaluated by Gilmet,” Stackhouse said.
Stackhouse also said that attorneys for Draher and Negron had filed a motion asking that the judge hearing the case dismiss that specification of the involuntary manslaughter charge against both men.
Last week, the military judge hearing the case granted a motion by defense attorneys to find Draher and Negron not guilty of obstruction of justice, which the two men had been charged with because prosecutors claimed they tried to avoid getting into trouble by taking Rodriguez to his quarters after the fight, Stackhouse said.
Closing arguments in Draher and Negron’s trial are expected to begin today, Finnerty said. Jurors could begin their deliberations later on Tuesday or starting on Wednesday morning.
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