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Marine sergeant found guilty in strangulation death of Army Green Beret

July 2 (UPI) -- A Marine Corps sergeant was convicted of manslaughter in the death of an Army Green Beret after a three-week trial at Norfolk Naval Station, Va.

On Thursday, an eight-member military panel found Marine Raider Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez guilty of hazing, false official statements, "housebreaking," conspiracy charges and involuntary manslaughter.

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Madera-Rodriguez was not, however, convicted of felony murder, the most serious charge.

Madera-Rodriguez was the last of four co-defendants charged in the June 4, 2017, strangulation death of Army Green Beret Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar in Bamako, Mali.

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The defense argued that Melgar's death, at off-site housing he shared with other military personnel, was unintentional and an element in a hazing incident which went out of control.

Medera-Rodriguez was the only defendant to plead not guilty, and in the trial, his attorney said that he played a minor role in the incident and only touched Melgar in an attempt to revive him.

Testimony indicated that the incident involved a "hazing party" aimed at Melgar, after personality conflicts between Melgar and the defendants.

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After a night of drinking, the defendants broke open Melgar's bedroom door with a sledgehammer, and plans to tie him up and take sexually compromising photos of him.

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Melgar fought back, leading to chokeholds that caused his strangulation death. The defendants later developed cover-up stories, resulting in false statements to authorities.

The co-defendants included another Marine and two Navy SEALs, all of whom pleaded guilty in separate trials and arranged plea deals.

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The sentencing of Madera-Rodriguez is scheduled to be determined within one week. He could serve a 10-year prison term.

Rear Adm. Charles Rock, Commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, was the presiding Consolidated Disposition Authority at the trial.

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