Marine drill trainer gets 10 years for abusing recruits

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Rory Laverty/ The Washington Post/ AP In

this Oct., 31, 2017, file photo, U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph A. Felix, his other half, and his legal representatives exit a courtroom after testimony at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Released Friday, Nov. 10, 2017|1:45 p.m.

Updated Friday, Nov. 10, 2017|3:36 p.m.

RALEIGH, N.C.– A Marine Corps drill trainer was sentenced Friday to Ten Years in prison for choking, punching or otherwise torturing employees, particularly three Muslims– among whom ultimately killed himself by leaping down a stairwell.

A military jury handed out the punishment to Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix a day after convicting him of abusing more than a dozen students at the Marine bootcamp at Parris Island, South Carolina.

To name a few things, he teased the Muslims as “terrorists” or “ISIS” and purchased 2 of them to climb up into an industrial clothes dryer, spinning among them around in the scorching device up until he renounced his faith, the jury decided.

Felix, a 34-year-old Iraq veteran, was also bought to forfeit all pay, demoted to personal and given an unethical discharge.

Felix was a central figure in exactly what was found to be a group of abusive drill trainers at Parris Island. After the March 2016 suicide at the base, a hazing investigation resulted in charges versus Felix, five other drill trainers and the training battalion’s commanding officer. Eleven others faced lesser discipline.

Abusive drill instructors have actually long been stock characters in books and motion pictures like “Full Metal Jacket.” But that 1987 movie was set throughout the Vietnam War, and the Felix trial reveals that since then the Militaries have drawn clearer lines between what trainers can and can refrain from doing, stated Michael Hanzel, a previous Navy lawyer who participated in the proceedings at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

“This generation now, there’s things that I think that we’re much more concentrated on. In particular, in this trial, it’s calling individuals names based on their religious beliefs and targeting individuals based on their faith,” said Hanzel, now a private lawyer specializing in military law. “I don’t believe anyone would state that was acceptable ever, but it most likely was not prosecuted in the previous the method it would be now.”

The charges versus Felix consisted of commanding recruits to choke each other; purchasing them to drink chocolate milk then training them up until they vomited; and punching recruits in the face or kicking them to the ground.

“He wasn’t making Marines. He was breaking Marines,” district attorney Lt. Col. John Norman informed the jury on Wednesday. He called Felix a bully who heaped special abuse on 3 Muslim employees due to the fact that of their faith.

Among them, Raheel Siddiqui, a 20-year-old Pakistani-American from Taylor, Michigan, hurled himself to his death after exactly what the jury chose was mistreatment by Felix that included slapping Siddiqui and calling him a terrorist. Siddiqui’s family sued the Marine Corps last month for $100 million.

The government did not charge Felix with any criminal activity directly related to Siddiqui’s death. The judge, Lt. Col. Michael Libretto, did not enable testament about whether Felix’s actions was accountable for the recruit’s suicide.

Felix likewise was founded guilty of purchasing Lance Cpl. Ameer Bourmeche into a clothes dryer, which then was switched on as Felix required, “Are you still Muslim?” Bourmeche affirmed that he twice verified his faith and Felix and another drill instructor twice sent him for a bruising, scorching tumble inside the device.

After a 3rd spin, Bourmeche stated, he feared for his life and renounced his religion. The drill instructors then let him out, he said.

Felix was found guilty too of purchasing Bourmeche to replicate chopping off the head of a fellow Marine while reciting “God is fantastic” in Arabic.

The jury chose Felix also bought Rekan Hawez, a local of Iraqi Kurdistan, to climb up into the dryer. The maker was never ever turned on.

Felix was convicted, too, of awakening almost two lots employees from their sleep, purchasing them to push the floor, then walking on them in addition to 2 other drill instructors.

In a closing statement Wednesday, defense attorney Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Bridges, stated the government unjustly fashioned inconsistent witness accounts into a case against the brawny drill instructor who called all employees “terrorist.”

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