Homicide trial for Marine recruit Dalton Beals’ death delayed due to new evidence

The trial of a Marine drill instructor charged with negligent homicide in recruit Dalton Beals’ death has been delayed by nearly two months, according to the Marine Corps Times.

The delay will give lawyers more time to review new evidence discovered by a second autopsy. According to the newspaper, Beal’s second autopsy determined he died of heart problems. This contradicts the first autopsy, which said he died of hyperthermia, caused by overheating.

The prosecution also requested a delay to work through potential evidence from a new Naval Safety Center investigation into Beals’ death. This investigation is different from Command Investigation and Line of Duty Determination report obtained by the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette previously.

Beals died June 4, 2021, during the Crucible, a rite-of-passage held during week 10 of recruit training at Parris Island, when recruits march 48 miles over 54 hours carrying up to 45 pounds of gear through 36 stations and problem-solving exercises.

In November, Staff Sgt. Steven Smiley was charged with negligent homicide in addition to dereliction of duty resulting in death; cruelty, oppression, or maltreatment of subordinates; and obstruction of justice.

Dalton Beals
Dalton Beals

Smiley’s three-week trial before a general court-martial had tentatively been scheduled to start April 24, Marine spokesman Maj. Philip Kulczewski told the Marine Corps Times.

But on March 24, the prosecution filed a motion, obtained by Marine Corps Times, asking the judge to delay the trial because of a Naval Safety Center investigation into Beals’ death, in addition to the second autopsy results.

Dalton Beals graduated from high school in 2020.
Dalton Beals graduated from high school in 2020.

The newspaper said the Naval Safety Center informed the prosecution of the investigation on Feb. 1, causing the prosecution to request additional time to work through the new potential evidence.

The Marine Corps Times said that on April 6, the military judge ordered the trial’s start date to be delayed by eight weeks, to June 19, according to Marine spokesman Maj. Philip Kulczewski. He told the newspaper the date could still change.