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Kaneohe Marine gets plea deal in hazing-suicide case

By William Cole

LAST UPDATED: 09:13 p.m. HST, Jan 30, 2012

One of three Kaneohe Bay Marines accused of hazing fellow Marine Lance Cpl. Harry Lew before Lew committed suicide in Afghanistan last April 3 reached a plea deal today and was sentenced to 30 days’ confinement, officials said.

Lance Cpl. Jacob D. Jacoby, 21, pleaded guilty to three specifications, or charges, of assault: that he struck Lew in the back with his foot, and hit Lew’s head with his foot and a closed fist while Lew was wearing a Kevlar helmet.

The government agreed to drop the remaining two charges: of wrongfully abusing, humiliating and demeaning Lew; and communicating a threat.

Earlier today, Lew’s aunt, U.S. Rep. Judy Chu of California, said the Marine Corps system “broke down” in the hazing meted out by fellow Marines.

Jacoby and two other Hawaii Marines were charged with multiple charges at court-martial ranging from abuse and humiliation to assault and dereliction of duty in the death of Lew, an Asian-American, who, along with the others, was part of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, out of Kaneohe Bay.

Jacoby also received a pay grade reduction from lance corporal to private first class, officials said. 

Chu, a California Democrat and the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress, was at the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay today for the special court-martial hearing.

“We want to make sure that the military justice system actually works, and that Harry’s death will not be in vain,” Chu said.

Lew’s father, Allen, from Santa Clara, Calif., along with the dead Marine’s mother and sister, also were in Hawaii for the hearing.

“We are very sad about what we have here,” Allen Lew said. “We just couldn’t believe their own peers could do something like that to their own people. This has been a bad tragedy for us that never can … repair our broken heart.”

At 3:43 a.m. April 3, while crouched in a foxhole he had just been ordered to dig because he had fallen asleep for the fourth time on sentry duty in less than two weeks, the 21-year-old Lew leaned over his automatic weapon, placed the muzzle in his mouth and killed himself, the Marines say.

Sgt. Benjamin E. Johns, 26, and Lance Cpl. Carlos Orozco III, 22, who were also at Patrol Base Gowragi in southern Afghanistan with Lew, also face charges in his death.

Johns is charged with humiliating and demeaning Lew and dereliction for failing to supervise a Marine under his care.

Orozco faces charges including humiliating Lew, dereliction, maltreatment of Lew for allegedly ordering him to do pushups, ordering him to do leg lifts with a sandbag and pouring sand on his face, and assault for reportedly placing his boot on Lew’s back.

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PaloloValley wrote:
They should all be hanged until almost dead, revived and hanged repeatedly throughout the course of a life sentence in Hawaii prison.
on January 30,2012 | 06:37AM
scooters wrote:
Sleeping on duty in a combat zone is not a good thing. Others depend on you to protect them and if not, corrective action must be taken, with in limit's...
on January 30,2012 | 07:10AM
PaloloValley wrote:
I don't take their word on one d*mn thing, especially about the 'sleeping.' Testifying at a grand jury hearing doesn't mean anything once the deed is done and they're trying to do the 'honorable' thing by 'saving' themselves and each other.Cowards.I'm a retired 'bleeding heart.' Nitpicking with 20-20 hindsight is always so easy. Justifying what was done to that soldier is beneath contempt for the perpetrators.
on January 30,2012 | 07:29AM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Regardless whether Lance Cpl. Lew fell asleep..It was no excuse for the other Marines to take matters into their own hands.
on January 30,2012 | 08:06AM
Ronin006 wrote:
This is a travesty of justice in the making. Marines and other members of our armed forces frequently engage in fights over various issues and when discipline is warranted, it usually is non-judicial punishment. So why are the marines who beat Lew facing courts-martial? If Lew had not killed himself, the marines who beat him probably would have been admonished verbal not to do it again or might have received some other form of non-judicial punishment. But Lew was the nephew of a member of Congress, which I believe influenced Marine brass to go for courts-martial. I think the brass lakes orbs.
on January 30,2012 | 08:29AM
MakaniKai wrote:
BINGO! Ronin006.
on January 30,2012 | 09:55AM
Eradication wrote:
If he was a 2LT and the accused was a Capt, what do you think would happen? After 21 years on active duty I saw enough of the ole "slap on the wrist...that's what men do..." Time to take Semper Fidelis seriously....Always faithful. If it takes a Congresswomen to make Marines act like Marines and not like a video game "John Wayne" then so be it. The entire chain of command is responsible for this senseless suicide. Where was the "Gunny" or Staff Sergeant to train this young Marine. If he wasn't dependable why would anyone put him out there protecting other Marines as they slept. How stupid is that? The young LCPL Lew needed to be evaluated. He could have been suffering from sleep apnea or stress related disorder that could have been corrected and he could have been a productive Marine. Instead, they pushed him to commit a senseless act.
on January 30,2012 | 04:35PM
9ronboz wrote:
on January 30,2012 | 10:17AM
Bpalmero wrote:
Regardless if he did what they claim he did, they had "NO RIGHT" to do this to thier own people. They lucky they don't have to spend time in Halawa or where our local boys are. They would get lickins!
on January 30,2012 | 02:40PM
RetiredUSMC wrote:
If you were not there with these Marines you have no idea what happened. Wait till it is over then read what happened. If you are a Marine you should stay out of this till it is over!
on January 30,2012 | 02:56PM
Eradication wrote:
As a retired Marine you know what happened...a group of leaderless Marines saw an emotional & physically weakened fellow Marine, no less an Asian, and took it upon themselves to "motivate" the young LCPL. Granted, in a real time situation, no one can tell how people will react to different situations. That's where good training and sound leadership takes over. It should have been automatic to take this Marine off the line. Evaluate and assess him before determining what to do next. After four tries I certainly would not have put him back out there to guard my back. If he had been wounded they would have evac'd him out yet because he wasn't bleeding it had to be weakness, right?
on January 30,2012 | 04:46PM
false wrote:
Exactly! USMC has a high standard and if you canʻt meet the standards get the hell out of town!
on January 30,2012 | 06:47PM
Vivgie wrote:
Let's have a haze a marine day every day until proper verdicts are handed down. Stinkers!
on January 30,2012 | 03:56PM
High_Society wrote:
"Did you order the Code Red!?"
on January 30,2012 | 04:42PM
GWakai02 wrote:
Suicide???Who said so???Murder???
on January 30,2012 | 05:49PM
kaulanakala wrote:
For Lew to make it through Basic should show the Corps that he had what it took to be a Marine "basically".But to fall asleep etc...on duty should have been dealt with and be drummed out of the unit/Corp if not improved. But to have fellow Marines picking on him...they obviously did not see "A Few Good Men" " we're supposed to fight for people who can't fight for themselves"...Jacoby and gang are nothing but bullies..we don't tolerate bullies anywhere in the US or the world. These guys will be dismissed dishonorably and maybe even Ft. Leavenworth should be included....hard labor at the least.
on January 30,2012 | 06:22PM
false wrote:
Agree! But that is not the mind set!
on January 30,2012 | 06:48PM
Anonymous wrote:
Sleeping during sentry duty during wartime was once a capital offense with a death penalty. After falling asleep a second time, Lew probably should have been sent back to base camp for some kind of punishment. As an AJA US Army retiree, the only time I felt any racial discrimination was when working with some enlisted Marines. I sometimes felt the attitudes of the enlisted Marines were perhaps a generation behind the times. As an officer, it was easy for me to ignore the comments. As an enlisted soldier, Lew would have a much hard time of it. Asians should probably still avoid enlisting in the Marine Corps. Lew killing himself was an overreaction, but he should not have been left with his unit after falling asleep multiple times.
on January 30,2012 | 08:08PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Wow, that's all the creep got. That's like a slap on the wrist.
on January 30,2012 | 10:53PM
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