Sabotage Charges Dropped Against Lejeune Marine
Posted April 9, 2003 4:42 a.m. EDT
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Charges have been dropped against a Camp Lejeune Marine accused of tampering with parachutes.
Lance Cpl. Julian Ramirez, 25, faced several charges, including attempted murder and reckless endangerment. He was accused of tampering with parachutes and cutting their lines. The charges were dropped without prejudice.
The military is still deciding whether to pursue charges against Camp Lejeune Lance Cpl. Antoine Boykins, charged with the same offenses as Ramirez. Recommendations involving Boykins are being reviewed.
Three Marines were injured last Sept. 21. After the sabotaged parachutes on their backs failed to open when they jumped from about 1,250 feet, they pulled their reserve chutes.
Other jumps for that day's exercise were canceled. Investigators said 13 of the 22 parachutes had been tampered with.
At a hearing last month, a military prosecutor said the two Marines cut suspension lines and hid their crimes from sight to avenge ill will from their platoon commander.
But one of Ramirez's attorneys reminded the judge that no forensic evidence presented in the hearing - the equivalent of a civilian grand jury - tied his client to the crime.
At last month's Article 32 hearing, a military investigator testified that both a fingerprint on a note and DNA from a severed deployment bag matched that of Boykins.
DNA from a skin cell found on a knot on a deployment bag containing a severed chute also matched Boykins, said the investigator, Special Agent Robert Lesane of Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
He said a note found in the parachute storage room had numbers written on it that correlated with the harnesses on the 13 sabotaged parachutes. The note had a fingerprint that matched that of Boykins, Lesane said.
Ramirez and Boykins had been held in the brig at Camp Lejeune since the end of January. Ramirez also was charged with unauthorized absence.
Maj. Paul McConnell, the military judge presiding at the hearing, was to decide whether the Marines should be court-martialed. Both suspects could have received life in prison without parole if convicted of the charges at a court-martial.