A Navy SEAL Team 6 operator has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the killing of Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar in 2017.
Chief Petty Officer Tony DeDolph was accused by prosecutors of strangling Melgar with a chokehold the night that he and several other special operators allegedly broke into Melgar’s room to haze him and then lying about it to investigators.
DeDolph accepted a deal from Navy prosecutors earlier this month, pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, hazing, and obstruction of justice. In addition to his 10-year sentence, DeDolph’s civilian attorney Philip Stackhouse confirmed to Task & Purpose that he is also being reduced in rank to E-1 and will be dishonorably discharged.
“Tony’s sentence will be appealed and he will petition for parole when he is eligible,” Stackhouse said.
DeDolph was one of several special operators accused of breaking into Melgar’s bedroom in Bamako, Mali, in June 2017, to video Melgar being restrained and sexually assaulted. DeDolph was accused of putting Melgar in a chokehold until he stopped breathing, and then falsely telling investigators that he and Melgar were wrestling at the time.
According to the Associated Press, DeDolph said during his trial that the special operators “were trying to teach Melgar a lesson over perceived slights.” He said his job was to put Melgar in a chokehold and cause him to temporarily lose consciousness. DeDolph said that Melgar lose consciousness in 10 seconds, but did not wake up after 30 seconds.
“Usually by that time, the individual has gotten up,” DeDolph said according to the AP. “And he did not.”
Melgar, a Special Forces engineer sergeant who was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), died of asphyxiation as a result of the incident.
Stackhouse, DeDolph’s attorney, said that while DeDolph pleaded guilty to the charges, “to say we are disappointed about the sentence would be an understatement of epic proportions.
“Objectively, the jury deliberated on a sentence less time than the lawyers argued their points and it would have been virtually impossible for them to do more than a cursory review of the significant volume of evidence given to them just when they began,” Stackhouse said. “Because of the confidentiality of the deliberative process, what they reviewed and why they decided on that sentence will remain unknown.”
Another Navy SEAL and Marine Raider have pleaded guilty for their roles in Melgar’s death and have been sentenced to prison — Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Adam Matthews was sentenced to one year behind bars, while Marine Pvt. Kevin Maxwell Jr. was sentenced to four years.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madero-Rodriguez is expected to appear in court on Feb. 1.
Featured photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar.