April 09, 2003

Marine charged in parachute sabotage released from brig

By Christian Lowe
Times staff writer

Charges against one of two lance corporals accused of sabotaging 13 of their unit’s parachutes have been dropped, Marine officials said Thursday. Lance Cpl. Julian C. Ramirez, 25, of Los Angeles, was released from the brig March 31.
Ramirez and Lance Cpl. Antoine Boykins, 21, of Baltimore, faced charges that included 13 counts of attempted premeditated murder, 13 counts of reckless endangerment, one count of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder and one count of destruction of government property. Ramirez also faced one count of unauthorized absence in connection with the incident.

The two Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., were accused of sabotaging 13 parachutes before a Sept. 21 jump there. Three Marines jumped that day, only to discover that the suspension lines for their parachutes had been severed. They deployed their reserve parachutes and landed safely. Ramirez and Boykins were arrested Jan. 28 and charged Feb. 12.

Recommendations on Boykins’ charges from an Article 32 hearing held March 18-19 have been forwarded to Navy Capt. Stephen J. Connelly, commander of 2nd Force Service Support Group Rear. Connelly will determine whether Boykins should face court martial on some or all of the charges. It is unclear when that decision will be made. The majority of the Marines’ unit has deployed to the Persian Gulf region for the war in Iraq.

“My client has taken the news very happily,” Dick McNeil, Ramirez’s civilian attorney, said April 9. “He knew he’d be vindicated.”

Ramirez has returned to his unit since being released, McNeil said. Since the charges were dismissed “without prejudice,” the government could reinitiate its case against Ramirez based on new evidence, a situation McNeil is confident won’t come to pass.

“My client is hoping this will all just go away,” he said.