Hearing postponed for 2 Marines charged with assaulting Savannah man

A Georgia judge on Thursday gave prosecutors more time to review evidence in the alleged beating of a gay man by two Beaufort Marines in downtown Savannah last month.

The Marines, assigned to different F-18 Hornet squadrons at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, appeared Thursday in Chatham County Recorder's Court for a preliminary hearing, according to base officials.

Judge Claire Cornwell-Williams postponed the hearing until Aug. 5, after Assistant District Attorney Laura Singleton asked for a two-week extension to review the incident and decide whether to press more serious charges, according to base officials.

The hearing was the first time the Marines have been in court since they were charged June 12 with misdemeanor battery for allegedly punching the man in the back of the head during an incident near the intersection of Congress and Bull streets.

The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet typically do not name people charged with misdemeanor crimes or their victims.

Witnesses told Savannah-Chatham Metro Police the two Marines attacked the gay man because they thought he winked at one of them.

Whether charges against the Marines remain the same, are elevated to felonies or result in federal hate-crime charges will hinge largely on the severity of the victim's injuries, said Gena Moore, a spokeswoman for Savannah-Chatham Metro Police.

The victim had referred requests for his medical records to his attorney, Katherine Aderhold of Savannah, who "finally gave them to" the District's Attorney's Office last month for their review, Moore said.

Both Marines remain on barracks restriction while their commanding officers also investigate, according to Gunnery Sgt. Chad McMeen, a spokesman at the air station.

McMeen said the base's internal investigation was nearing completion, pending the outcome of the criminal case.

If military investigators deem the crime serious or if the charges in Georgia are elevated, the two could face court martial, he said.