KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii – A U.S. Marine accused of hazing a colleague who committed suicide at their remote outpost in Afghanistan is appearing in court after agreeing to a plea bargain.
Lance Cpl. Jacob D. Jacoby was referred to a general court-martial in October on charges that he assaulted, threatened, and humiliated Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, who killed himself on April 3.
Jacoby will appear Monday before a special court martial -- a venue for less serious crimes than a general court-martial-- at a Marine base in Hawaii after reaching a plea agreement. The Marines didn't release details of the agreement ahead of the trial.
Two other Marines have also been accused of hazing Lew, 21, a nephew of U.S. Rep. Judy Chu of California, before Lew shot himself with his machine gun. Sgt. Benjamin Johns and Lance Cpl. Carlos Orozco III will have separate courts-martial at later dates.
In a separate but similar case, eight U.S. soldiers are charged in the death of a 19-year-old private, Danny Chen, who shot himself on Oct. 3 after what investigators say were weeks of physical abuse, humiliation and racial slurs.
At an Article 32 hearing -- the equivalent of a grand jury hearing in the civilian world -- in September, Marines testified Lew had repeatedly fallen asleep while he was on duty. Squad members and officers had tried referring him up the chain of command for discipline and taking him off patrols for more rest.
But on Lew's last night, those efforts escalated, according to charges outlined at the hearing. The Marines were accused of punching and kicking him, making him do push-ups and pouring sand in his face.
Most of the questions raised at the hearing focused on whether the fellow Marines intended to humiliate and harm Lew or discipline him so he would stop falling asleep while on duty.
Before Lew shot himself, he scrawled a note on his arm: "May hate me now, but in the long run this was the right choice I'm sorry my mom deserves the truth."
A Marine commander in retrospect speculated Lew may have been falling asleep because he suffered from depression or some other medical condition.
Chu has issued a statement saying no one deserves being "hazed and tortured" like her nephew was, and the military justice system must hold "any wrongdoers accountable."