5-year sentence for killer of Rota Marine

Posted on Jul 05 2011

Rota resident David M. Santos, 43, said justice has not been fully served in the death of his 21-year-old son at the hands of a fellow Marine in Afghanistan almost a year ago today.

The defendant—Cpl. William Dalton—was found guilty of killing U.S. Marine Corporal Dave Michael Maliksi Santos of Rota.

Santos’ family believes that Dalton should have been found guilty of second-degree murder which carries a sentence of 20 years to life imprisonment, instead of the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter, which has a maximum sentence of 10 years and forfeiture of all rank, pay and status in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Dalton got a five-year sentence on June 27.

“We lost our son forever, and the man who took away his life got only five years jail time for involuntary manslaughter, and not murder. It’s an unfair justice,” Santos told Saipan Tribune yesterday.

He said the trial and the light sentence just “reopened the wound.”

The late Santos, who was born on Rota in 1989, was stabbed in the neck on July 16, 2010, by his fellow Marine, Dalton, in Marjeh, Helmand Province in Afghanistan, where they were deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The older Santos said that despite a plea from him, his late son’s wife Lotty Ann, his son’s biological mother Charito Maliksi-Runge, and two of his son’s fellow Marines during the sentencing hearing wherein they asked that the defendant be found guilty of second-degree murder, “it was to no avail.”

A military jury of eight members spent over three hours to arrive at a verdict in the case.

[B]Involuntary manslaughter[/B]

The older Santos said the family has long been hoping and asking that the defendant be found guilty of second-degree murder.

“But he’s only found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. And instead of 10 years, he was only sentenced to five years in prison. That hurts me and the whole family a lot. …What message does it send? That if you kill a fellow Marine, you will only be jailed five years. After that, he’s a free man, he can go on with his life, while the family of the person whose life he took will forever carry the grief and sadness,” the older Santos said.

David M. Santos and his son’s adoptive mother Isabella Maratita flew from Rota to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for the trial, which was scheduled for June 16 to 29. But the trial and sentencing lasted only until June 27.

They just got back to Rota this week.

“On June 27, the panel found him not guilty of second-degree murder, but found him guilty of only involuntary manslaughter,” David M. Santos said in a phone interview from Rota.

John Santos, who is David M. Santos’s brother and uncle of the slain Marine, said yesterday in a separate interview that it’s bittersweet justice for the whole family.

“I feel sorry for my brother, for learning that the man who took away his son’s life will only be jailed for five years,” he said.

John Santos, who works at the Legislature, said it’s unfair that the punishment for taking one’s life is only five years.

The Santos family said it’s hard to understand that their son would lose his life in the hands of a fellow Marine, when they were fighting a war against terror.


The grieving father said throughout the trial, he felt that there’s discrimination against his son, in favor of the defendant.

“The defendant is a white man. All the eight members of the military panel were white. They didn’t even know who the Chamorros are, that they are also U.S. citizens, and they favored the white man. They helped the man who murdered my son, but not us, who wanted justice for our son. …He stabbed my son to death, and he gets five years. I can’t explain the grief, the pain, the suffering,” he said.

The older Santos said he wasn’t able to talk to the defendant, who he said has been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Like I said before, we could only hear the defendant’s side, and not my son’s side of the story,” he added.

Dalton, he said, is 25 years old and will only be 30 when he goes out of jail.

David M. Santos said that after Dalton has spent some time at a military prison, he will be transferred to a civilian prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.

“My son was supposed to turn 22 on May 17. He was born in 1989,” he said, adding that every Father’s Day will be different.

He said his son’s son is now 4 years old.

In news stories from North Carolina about the murder trial, the defense and prosecution painted staggeringly different pictures of what happened during that early morning of July 16, 2010, in Afghanistan.

[B]One-year death anniversary[/B]

As the one-year death anniversary of the late Marine draws closer, the family on Rota is now preparing for a nightly rosary and Mass, which will start on July 8, Friday, and end on July 16, Saturday.

The nightly rosary will start at 6:30pm, followed by Mass at 7pm, at the San Isidro-Saina Ina Church on Rota.

On July 16, the anniversary of the death, there will be a prayer ceremony or “responso” at the San Jose Cemetery on Rota where the late Marine was buried on July 29 last year.

Families and friends are invited to join the Santos family at the Rosary and Mass.

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