Lt. Colonel Stuart Scheller has been charged with six violations and will face a special court martial for publicly criticizing the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal
Marine officer Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller arrived grim-faced for his special court martial this morning following his blistering social media attacks on military top brass over the Afghanistan withdrawal fiasco.
Scheller, 40, has pleaded guilty to six charges, including contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and was flanked by his defense team, including lawyer Timothy Parlatore as he walked to the courtroom at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Parlatore has told DailyMail.com exclusively: 'It is interesting to note that senior leaders have not dismissed his message. But they want to crush the messenger.'
Scheller has waived his right to a trial by jury and has elected trial by military judge alone.
Parlatore said outside the courtroom: 'This is a sentencing case. Stu has accepted responsibility. He is going to plead guilty so this is not a matter of going in and saying, hey he did the right thing but it is a matter of saying what is an appropriate punishment given the circumstances under which he committed these videos.
'We expect he will get a letter of reprimand. We are not expecting any confinement. He has submitted his resignation and the Secretary of the Navy will later decide on that.'
Colonel Stuart Scheller Jr. (seen in uniform) was flanked by his defense team including lawyer Timothy Parlatore as he walked to the courtroom at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina Thursday
Scheller arrived grim-faced for his special court martial this morning following his blistering social media attacks on military top brass over the Afghanistan withdrawal fiasco
Asked how Scheller was feeling this morning, Parlatore said: 'Any criminal defendant walking into a court house is not going to feel that great. So obviously there are always nerves. But at the same time he is looking forward to the opportunity to put this thing to rest and to come out, accept responsibility.
'This case all began with demand for accountability. Today he is going to show the Pentagon what it looks like to stand up and take accountability for your actions.'
Scheller has been hauled before the court after publicly demanding the Pentagon leadership accept greater accountability for their roles in the fiasco – which saw the Taliban's lightning advance on capital Kabul and the resulting carnage.
The decorated 17-year veteran – just three years from retirement – launched his first social media attack on generals on August 26, the day 13 US service personnel and 170 Afghan civilians were killed by an ISIS suicide bomber at Hamid Khazai airport.
The following day he was stripped of his job commanding the school of infantry at the massive Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. This was due to 'a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command,' according to Marines spokesman Major Jim Stenger said at the time.
Despite the firing, Scheller continued to post another video and written statements on social media in the face of orders to stop. These also went viral, gaining hundreds of thousands of views.
In one he promised to file charges against the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Frank McKenzie, saying: 'Senior leaders need to be held accountable the same as us.'
Eventually he was sent to the brig – the Marines' jail – on September 27, sparking a massive groundswell of support to get him out from the grim confinement. He was freed a week later on October 5 after his lawyers came to an agreement with the Marine Corps.
Scheller will admit six misdemeanor charges, his legal team has told DailyMail.com. These are contempt toward officials, disrespect toward the superior commissioned officers, willfully disobeying superior commissioned officers, dereliction in the performance of duties, failure to obey order or regulation, and conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.
In one nearly five-minute video posted on Facebook and LinkedIn, he said: 'The reason people are upset on social media right now is not because the marine on the battlefield let someone down. That service member always rose to the occasion and did extraordinary things.