Marine instructor cleared of killing recruit during boot camp
Marine drill instructor Steven Smiley sobs and says sorry as he’s cleared of killing recruit Dalton Beals during boot camp
- Staff Sergeant Steven Smiley has been cleared of negligent homicide after a Marine recruit died during his grueling training session
- Marine recruit Dalton Beals, 19, died of hypothermia during Smiley’s 54-hour ‘Crucible’ training on June 4 2021
A Marine drill instructor has been cleared of negligent homicide after a Marine recruit died during his grueling training session.
Staff Sergeant Steven Smiley was found not guilty of negligent homicide and four other counts by an eight-person military jury over the death of Marine recruit Dalton Beals in 2021.
Beals, a 19-year-old recruit from New Jersey, died of hypothermia during Smiley’s 54-hour ‘Crucible’ training on June 4 2021.
A military report into the incident said his death was preventable and not due to the recruits own conduct.
But jurors agreed with Smiley’s attorneys’ claims that Beals died due to an undiagnosed heart condition.
Smiley appeared to break down with emotion upon being acquitted at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island on Friday, before apologizing to Beals’ family for the loss of their son.
Staff Sergeant Steven Smiley has been cleared of negligent homicide and four other counts by an eight-person military jury
The teenager from New Jersey was missing for more than an hour before he was found
Marine recruit Dalton Beals died of hypothermia during Smiley’s 54-hour ‘Crucible’ training on June 4 2021
The prosecution argued, supported by medical experts, that Beals was overcome with heat stroke and that Smiley had pushed the recruits too hard.
Lieutenant Colonel Ian Germain, of the prosecution, argued that Smiley tried to ‘break’ the recruits and ordered more exercises despite the 90 degree heat.
Germain alleged that ‘Beals was entrusted to Steven Smiley who treated him like he was going to break him not make him and that’s why we are here.’
He also argued that the Seargent failed to recognize clear signs of heat exhaustion in Beals and ignored a warning from a recruit who tried to inform him Beals was missing.
Beals was missing for more than an hour before he was found.
However, the defense appeared to successfully persuade the jury that Beals had a preexisting heart condition that contributed to his death.
Smiley’s attorney Colby Vokey told the jury ‘if the conditions of the Crucible are hot or difficult, that doesn’t fall on Staff Sgt. Smiley.’
He asked the jury not to ‘make [Smiley] a scapegoat because of a tragic event.’
A military report into the incident said his death was preventable and not due to the recruits own conduct
Smiley’s ‘Crucible’ training lasted 54 hours and at times was conducted in 90 degree heat
Stacie Beals, Dalton’s mother, believes that Smiley (pictured) ‘hazed’ her son
Beals died shortly after one of the exercises during the hardcore 54-hour session.
The teenager had reportedly taken part in a pugil stick competition in which fighters from two competing platoons don what look like football helmets and smash at each other with padded sticks.
Beals’ mother Stacie Beals previously told The New York Post that she believed Smiley ‘hazed’ her son and was ‘self-righteous.’
‘He was going to make his platoon the top platoon. It was an ego trip for him.’
Stacie also told The Post she never considered the thought that he might have died in training.
‘I did not want him on the frontlines. That was my worry. I did not worry about something happening to Dalton in the United States.
‘The last thing I worried about was him dying during training in his own country’ she said.
Soon before passing away, Dalton wrote his mother that he was excited for her to see him in his Marines dress uniform, but she only did so at his funeral.
‘It was an open-casket funeral with Dalton in his dress uniform,’ Stacie said.
‘That was heartbreaking, a sight I will never forget. He is missed. What happened to my son is still hard to believe.’
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