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ARLINGTON, Va. — The fate of the Marine accused of killing a Romanian rock star in an auto accident last December is now in the hands of the commander of the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Col. Glen Sochtleben, 4th MEB commander, is now reviewing recommendations regarding Staff Sgt. Christopher VanGoethem that were forwarded following a two-day Article 32 hearing at Marine Corps Base Quantico on July 25-26.

VanGoethem, 32, was commander of the Marine security detachment at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest.

The most serious of the charges is negligent homicide resulting from a traffic accident that killed 50-year-old Teofil Peter, bassist for the rock band Compact.

VanGoethem, who is married, also stands accused of committing adultery with the daughter of an American Embassy official in Bucharest; asking her to lie to cover up the affair; drunk and disorderly conduct resulting from an earlier car accident; and storing and viewing pornography on a government computer.

After reviewing the evidence presented by prosecutors and defense during the hearing, the investigating officer for the case, Marine Lt. Col. Stewart Couch, released his recommendations to the case’s convening authority, the commander of the Marine Security Guard Battalion at Quantico.

When the hearing was held, that convening authority was Col. William E. Rizzio. But in the days after the hearing was concluded, Rizzio turned over his command to Col. David Head.

Although Head retained the authority to make his own decision regarding the VanGoethem case, the colonel instead decided to “kick it up the chain” to Sochtleben, according to 4th MEB spokesman Maj. Cliff Gilmore.

Head’s decision reflects “the multinational implications of the case,” Gilmore said in a Wednesday telephone interview.

Gilmore said he expects Sochtleben to announce how he intends to deal with VanGoethem “within a week or so.”


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