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After being cleared of homicide charges, Marines face no penalty for drinking

The jury of eight Marines found them not guilty this week during a trial at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina

Published: February 3, 2023 8:56am

Updated: February 3, 2023 10:27am

A military jury decided Thursday that two Marine raiders will receive no legal punishment for drinking during their deployment in Iraq, one day after they were cleared of homicide charges in connection with the death of an ex-Green Beret four years ago. 

A jury of eight Marines on Wednesday found Gunnery Sgts. Josh Negron and Danny Draher on guilty of involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide and dereliction in the performance of duties in connection with the death, the Marine Times reports.

On Thursday, the jury said the defendants violated an order by consuming alcohol while in Iraq but decided not to impose any punishment, a the trial at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. 

Prosecutors accused Negron and Draher of being responsible for the death of retired Army Master Sgt. Rick Rodriguez, a military contractor at the time of his death. 

On Jan. 1, 2019, Rodriguez allegedly got into a fight with the two Marines and Navy corpsman Chief Petty Officer Eric Gilmet following an argument with at a bar in Irbil, Iraq.

The three men returned Rodriguez, who was working for Lockheed Martin at the time, to his on base-quarters.

But when it became clear that he was having problems breathing, they took him to the base's trauma center, said Draher's attorney, according to Military.com.

"It’s definitely a huge weight off my shoulder,"  Negron told Marine Corps Times about the jury's decisions this week. "It’s been a long time coming."

The jury opted not to impose any punishment for the drinking. If convicted, the two marines would have had to face maximum of two years’ confinement and a dishonorable discharge.  

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