A Parris Island, South Carolina, drill instructor was arraigned Wednesday on charges connected to the death of a Marine recruit in summer 2021.

Staff Sgt. Steven T. Smiley was charged in November in the death of Marine recruit Pfc. Dalton Beals, 19, who died in June 2021 as a result of extreme body temperature while completing the culminating boot camp training event “the Crucible” in 90-plus degree temperatures, Marine Corps Times previously reported.

April 24 has been proposed as the court-martial date, according to News 12 New Jersey.

The arraignment took place at Parris Island, South Carolina, and Beals’ father was scheduled to be in attendance, Beals’ mother, Stacie, told Marine Corps Times.

An arraignment is a formal hearing that charges a defendant with a crime and requests for that defendant to enter a plea.

Smiley did not enter a plea on Wednesday, according to The Beaufort Gazette.

The staff sergeant faces a general court-martial on the following charges, Maj. Philip Kulczewski, a spokesman for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, previously told Marine Corps Times:

  • One count of negligent homicide.
  • One count of obstruction of justice.
  • One count of cruelty, oppression or maltreatment of subordinates.
  • Another count with four specifications of failure to obey orders.

Smiley has had no pretrial confinement, Kulczewski confirmed with Marine Corps Times Thursday. The staff sergeant has continued to work on base, though he is no longer training recruits.

An investigation shared with Marine Corps Times said Beals’ death was “likely avoidable” and that Smiley was at fault for not properly overseeing Beals or other recruits, even making them do extra physical training inappropriate for the day’s weather conditions, Marine Corps Times previously reported.

“The investigation revealed that although [Smiley] was technically qualified to serve as a senior drill instructor, he did not have the maturity, temperament, and leadership skills necessary to be an effective senior drill instructor,” the investigation said.

The case has been assigned to Judge Lt. Col. Adam Workman. Marine Corps Times has been unable to contact Smiley’s lawyers for comment.

The court hearing came soon after Parris Island, South Carolina, announced a heart monitoring device that recruits wear during the Crucible is now entering final testing.

The Heat Injury Prevention System ― which began testing early in 2019 but was put on hold for 2020 and part of 2021― is said to be “back in full swing,” the South Carolina base said recently.

“A Marine’s life is priceless,” Kyla Driver, a research coordinator with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, said in a press release. “This system will allow us to preserve those Marines by being able to monitor their conditions during real time events.”

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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