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THE NATION

Marine Who Cut Parachute Cords Says He Was Angry

August 07, 2003|From Associated Press

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — A Marine said Wednesday he cut the lines of parachutes that had been packed for a training jump because he was angry, and knew he was endangering lives.

Lance Cpl. Antoine D. Boykins, 21, pleaded guilty to nine counts of reckless endangerment, four of aggravated assault and one of destruction of government property.

Three Marines were hurt in the incident. One testified he is in constant pain from the injury he suffered last September, and was unable to join his unit when it went to Iraq this year.

The plea was part of an agreement approved last month by the commanding general of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, but kept confidential until the hearing. A scheduled court-martial was canceled.

During his sentencing hearing, which continues today, Boykins told the presiding officer, Col. Alvin Keller, that he cut the suspension lines of 13 parachutes two days before they were to be used. Boykins, of Baltimore, said he was alone in the room and it took him up to 10 minutes to open each parachute, cut the cords and reclose the parachute bag.

The three Marines were injured Sept. 21, 2002, when their parachutes failed to open after they jumped at about 1,250 feet. Their reserve chutes deployed safely.

Boykins said he acted because he was angry, though he didn't say why. Prosecutors have said Boykins was fuming over having been disciplined.

Boykins said he knew his actions could kill or seriously injure someone because reserve chutes can fail.

Boykins agreed to testify against another Marine who also is charged with sabotaging the parachutes, Keller said.

Cpl. Clayton A. Chaffin, 28, of Ohio is charged with 31 counts including reckless endangerment, aggravated assault, conspiracy and drug charges.

Boykins could be sentenced to 31 years in prison, forfeiture of pay, reduction in rank and dishonorable discharge.

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