Nov. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy charged two Virginia Beach-based Navy SEALs and two Marines in the 2017 strangulation death of U.S. Army Green Beret Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar.
The U.S. Navy accused the suspects of strangling Melgar in a chokehold after breaking into his room while he was sleeping and restraining him with duct tape they acquired from Marine quarters.
The four service members, whose names were not released, were charged Tuesday with felony murder in Melgar's death at age 34, and were also charged with involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, hazing and burglary.
If the charges result in conviction, they could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
The charges of fratricide were first reported by The Daily Beast.
Melgar, who was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group in Mali, West Africa, to counter terrorism, and served two tours in Afghanistan, was found dead on June 4, 2017, in embassy housing, in the Malian capital, as first reported by The New York Times. In May, his name was inscribed on the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Memorial Wall at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Admiral Charles Rock, commander of Norfolk-based Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, decided to move forward with charges after he obtained a Naval Criminal Investigative Service report into Melgar's death.
A preliminary hearing on the charges is set for Dec. 10 at Naval Station Norfolk.
A U.S. Special Operations Command spokesperson said the charges should not tarnish the reputation of U.S. Special Operators worldwide.
"We will not allow allegations or substantiated incidents of misconduct erode decades of honorable accomplishments by the members of U.S. Special Operations Command," Captain Jason Salata said. "If these allegations of misconduct are substantiated, they represent a violation of the trust and standards required of all service members."