Staff Sgt. found not guilty of negligent homicide after Marine recruit died during training

Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 5:37 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2023 at 10:47 PM EDT
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PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - A staff sergeant has been found not guilty of negligent homicide by a court martial surrounding the death of a recruit at Parris Island.

Staff Sgt. Steven Smiley has been found not guilty of negligent homicide, dereliction of duty, cruelty of subordinates and obstruction of justice. He was found guilty on one count of violation of lawful general order.

The panel sentenced Smiley to be reduced to the rank of E5-sergeant. Smiley was an E6-staff sergeant.

Smiley faced charges after Marine recruit, 19-year-old Dalton Beals, died in 2021 during “The Crucible”, the final test of recruit training.

The prosecution argued Staff Sgt. Smiley ignored Beals’ signs of heat exhaustion.

The one guilty charge, violation of lawful general order, is for name calling. Prosecutors said Smiley called recruits “pigs, war pigs and sweet bacon” which violates orders not to demean recruits.

The defense attorney for Smiley, Colby Vokey, said, “it’s a tragic loss for the Beals family, the Marine family, but it had nothing to do with Staff Sgt. Smiley.”

“I think my son deserved better. Obviously there’s a lot of work that the Marines have to do. I just hope that what can come out of this is the best there could be is that another DI or SDI in power and control will maybe think twice about what can happen,” said Stacie Beals, the mother of Dalton Beals.

Beals says her son, her hero, made her proud everyday. She went on to say Dalton would have made an amazing Marine if his life wasn’t cut short.

As for Smiley, he has reached the end of his active service and will be leaving the marine corps.