Hearing postponed again for 2 Marines accused of hitting a Savannah man

A Georgia judge again postponed a hearing Thursday for two Beaufort Marines accused of attacking a gay Savannah man in June.

Chatham County Recorder's Court Judge Claire Cornwell-Williams delayed the hearing until Sept. 9 to give Assistant District Attorney Laura Singleton and defense attorneys for the two Marines time to review a surveillance video of the incident. The Marines are being represented by attorneys William Bell and Steven Beauvais of Savannah.

It is the second time the hearing has been postponed. Singleton was granted a two-week continuance July 8 to review evidence and determine whether to press more serious charges against the two Marines, who are assigned to different F-18 Hornet squadrons at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

The Marines 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 in downtown Savannah.

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.

The Marines claimed they were subjected to "unwanted verbal advances, that they were closely followed, and that a threat was communicated" by the victim and his friends.

Air station officials are awaiting the case's outcome before proceeding with possible military charges against the Marines, who have been under barracks restriction since the incident.

"Everything hinges on the outcome of the criminal case at this point," said Gunnery Sgt. Chad McMeen, air station spokesman.

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