April court martial date set for Marine drill instructor charged in death of recruit from NJ

A military court has set an April 24 court martial date for a Marine drill instructor charged with negligent homicide in the death of a recruit from New Jersey.

News 12 Staff

Dec 14, 2022, 5:38 PM

Updated 588 days ago

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A military court has set an April 24 court martial date for a Marine drill instructor charged with negligent homicide in the death of a recruit from New Jersey.
“Drill sergeants have a high duty, a responsibility, really a sacred responsibility to take care of America’s youth,” says Thomas Roughneen a former Army Judge advocate.
PFC. Dalton Beals died of hyperthermia after being separated from fellow recruits during the final 54-hour gauntlet of Marine training known as the Crucible. It happened on Parris Island in South Carolina on a brutally hot June day last year.
“But they have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was probably negligence. So I think it’s a very easy case for the government to prove,” says Roughneen.
Roughneen is an Iraq War veteran who served in the New Jersey Army National Guard and the Army’s JAG Corps as a reservist.
“It’s a reasonable standard. What would a reasonable drill sergeant have done under the circumstances?” Roughneen asks.
Roughneen also served as an assistant prosecutor in Essex and Union counties. He says there are some differences between the military and civilian justice systems.
“Different than a civilian jury. They can punish you with six months of hard labor. That’s still a part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Roughneen says. “I would almost say all the rights and more are offered to a military accused.”
Defendants in the military system can choose either a military or civilian lawyer to defend them.
Charges against Staff Sgt. Stephen Smiley includes negligent homicide, cruelty to subordinates and obstruction of justice.
“It’s dangerous territory for that young marine and obviously there are two sides to this,” Roughneen says.
The court martial will be presided over by a Judge Advocate General. A panel of between five and 12 service members will serve as the jury.


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