YUMA, Ariz. – The Marine Corps says there is enough evidence to bring Lance Corporal Jared Cardwell to military trial. Cardwell is charged with murder, and a charge of negligence in the death of his 22-month old daughter Celine Matus. Matus was found dead on base at MCAS Yuma on May 19th, Cardwell was arrested three days later.
“I just want to ask him why, ask him why he did,” Alba Matus, Celine’s Paternal Grandmother said.
The decision to bring Cardwell to military court, otherwise known as a court martial, comes after a preliminary hearing which was held at MCAS Miramar in San Diego September 14th.
In that initial hearing evidence from both sides was presented, the cause of death was also determined. Dr. Gregory Hess out of Pima County performed the autopsy. Hess testified the toddler died from blunt force trauma to the head. He also added there were bruises all over her body, and chemical burns on her face.
The doctor who treated Celine at YRMC says he believes Celine had been dead for up to 12 hours before receiving any sort of medical attention.
The Marine Corps says Cardwell should be in court within the next three months.
The marine corps says should Cardwell be found innocent, his life will return to normal. “If he is found guilty, then he could spend the rest of his life in a military brig,” Colonel Daren Margolin, a staff Judge Advocate said.
The family says the decision to bring Cardwell to Court Martial, is a small victory for them and Celine.
“I have been fighting and fighting for justice, and it feels like now I am finally being heard,” Matus said.
Cardwell has not entered a plea.