- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (AP) — A Hawaii-based Marine lance corporal accused of hazing in Afghanistan is going to jail for 30 days and will have his rank reduced to private first class for punching and kicking a fellow Marine who killed himself shortly afterward.

Navy Capt. Carrie Stephens, the judge in Lance Cpl. Jacob Jacoby’s special court-martial, handed down the sentence after Cpl. Jacoby, 21, pleaded guilty to assault.

The Marine admitted he punched and kicked Lance Cpl. Harry Lew of Santa Clara, Calif. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors withdrew charges that Cpl. Jacoby humiliated and threatened Lew.

Capt. Stephens said she found no evidence that Cpl. Jacoby’s abuse of Lew caused Lew to kill himself, and she didn’t take the suicide into account when determining the sentence.

Two other Marines also have been accused of hazingLew and face courts-martial.

Cpl. Jacoby said he acted out of anger and frustration that his fellow Marine had repeatedly fallen asleep while on watch for Taliban fighters.

He told the court he wanted to talk to Lew to find out why he kept falling asleep and to help him stay awake. But Cpl. Jacoby said he got angry when Lew spoke to him in a disrespectful manner, even though Lew was putting the lives of the Marines at their patrol base in danger by dozing off.

Before sentencing, Cpl. Jacoby said he was sorry and he wanted to take responsibility for his actions.

“I allowed my emotions and frustrations to get the best of me and acted out against a fellow Marine,” Cpl. Jacoby said.

He said he will never forget the pain and humiliation of being court-martialed and believes he can use his experience to help other Marines.

Marine Capt. Jesse Schweig said the government was confident Cpl. Jacoby is capable of rehabilitating himself.

But Capt. Schweig asked the judge to sentence Cpl. Jacoby with an eye on deterring similar behavior. He said Cpl. Jacoby should be given a bad-conduct discharge.

“If this is how you’re going to approach and motivate your peers, then you do not need to be a part of the service,” Capt. Schweig said in closing remarks at the sentencing hearing.

Navy Lt. John Battisi, Cpl. Jacoby’s attorney, said Cpl. Jacoby lost his temper and struck Lew, but he argued that Cpl. Jacoby made sure to hit Lew on his body armor, where he was best protected.

He also asked that the judge keep in mind the circumstances the Marines were in and said that the chain of command hadn’t addressed Lew’s sleeping problem and instead had left the issue in Cpl. Jacoby’s hands that night.

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