The Article 32 hearing ended Friday for Lance Cpl. Darren Evans—a Marine accused in the November beating death of 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Mario Arias. The hearing, which began Thursday, is to determine what charges—if any—would be pursued in a court martial. Prosecutors are pushing for premeditated murder charges in addition to assault and violating a lawful order.
Prosecutors recommended Evans be tried for premeditated murder, partly because he gave quick and logical responses to a noncommissioned officer around the time the incident happened, the North County Times reports. Shortly after the incident, investigators found him to have an alcohol level more than three times higher than what California considers legally drunk.
Evans and Arias, both 19 at the time, were students at Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303 and living as roommates in the dormitory for enlisted personnel and non-commissioned officers, according to various witnesses.
The two were roommates in a dormitory described by a witness as “,” where underage alcohol consumption was common. Witnesses also said the unit’s leadership ignored recommendations to get help for Evans who — in addition to having been on suicide watch — was able to become intoxicated the night of Arias’ death.
shortly after midnight on Nov. 6 after Evans had fallen or leaped off a third story ledge and injured himself, according to witness testimony.
Col. Shaun L. Sadler, commander of Marine Aircraft Group 39, which is responsible for the barracks, released a Nov. 28 memo (see attached PDF file) that shows a response of increased leadership presence at the troubled barracks. The rounds a squadron staff duty officer must make to dormitories tripled to six visits on weekdays and eight visits on weekends and holidays, according to Miramar spokesperson 1st Lt. Maureen Dooley. It also guides the officers and noncommissioned officers doing the visits to familiarize themselves with drug and alcohol policies and to report violations immediately.
The investigating officer, Lt. Col. Doug Gardner, has up to 20 days to make his recommendation to Maj. Gen. Andrew W. O’Donnell, Jr. commander of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. The general will then make the final decision as to how to proceed with the case.
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