Trial of Marine ends in acquittal

February 27, 2012 by  

On Friday, February 24, a military jury at Marine Force Base in Hawaii decided that Lance Corporal Carlos Orozco was not guilty of hazing in a case involving another Lance Corporal, Harry Lew, who shot himself in Afghanistan.

Orozco stood accused of demeaning and shaming the Santa Clara Lance Corporal by making forcing him to do leg lifts and pushups as a penalty for falling asleep on his watch, which he allegedly did on at least four occasions. Hazing has been increasingly less tolerated across the nation; many printing companies have seen hazing-awareness pamphlets flying across their presses, and when hazing results in suicide, more people want to make an example out of the bully.

During his closing arguments, the prosecuting attorney, Major Hanorah Tyler-Witek urged the jury to find Orozco guilty, citing witness testimony that Orozco had forced Lew to do leg lifts with sand bags attached to his legs after two hours of foxhole digging without any food or water.

Unlike many cases, however, the defense of Orozco stood on a solid foundation, the kind of defense that threatens a prosecutor’s conviction rate. The defense simply argued that Lew’s punishment was perfectly suitable and within the Orozco’s authority. Where the prosecution saw cruel and unusual, the defense saw a ranking Marine administering standard discipline; they said Orozco acted in the best interests of his country, and would have been held accountable by his own superiors if Lew was allowed to continue falling asleep on the job.The defense also insisted that the exercise didn’t physically exhaust the lance corporal.

Without trying to undermine the tragedy of Lew’s death, the jury agreed that Orozco’s disciplinary procedures were not out of line and did not warrant punishment.