DeDolph testified during his court-martial that they were trying to get back at Melgar for perceived slights. The other SEAL, Adam Matthews, testified in 2019 that the perceived slights included an incident in which Melgar was driving his motorcycle to a party at a diplomatic embassy in the capital city of Bamako. Two Marines were following in another vehicle before Melgar drove off, Matthews said. Matthews suggested that the Marines felt Melgar had abandoned them in an unsafe city that’s been the target of terrorist activity.
The servicemembers plotted to get Melgar back with an elaborate prank known as a “tape job,” DeDolph testified earlier this month. The prank included binding Melgar with duct tape, applying the chokehold to temporarily knock him out and then showing Melgar a video of the incident sometime later.
The case has pulled back the curtain on misconduct among some of America’s most elite servicemembers while offering a brief window into how some have addressed grievances outside the law.
DeDolph is a member of the elite SEAL Team 6. Besides the prison time, his sentence strips him of his pay and his rank of chief petty officer. He’ll also receive a dishonorable discharge. The punishment still must receive official approval from an admiral.
DeDolph had faced a maximum sentence of 22½ years in prison.
DeDolph’s attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, told The Associated Press in an email that the sentence will be appealed.
Stackhouse expressed concerns about the length of the jury’s deliberations. He said 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.”
Matthews, the other SEAL, and Marine Kevin Maxwell Jr. have already pleaded guilty to lesser charges and were sentenced to shorter terms in military prison. Another Marine, Mario Madera-Rodriguez, is scheduled for court-martial in April.