NC Literary Hall of Fame



Counsel for the Accused Marine Corps Drill Sergeant by Marie Costello-Inserra

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
$14.99, paperback / $5.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-0692595244
July, 2016
Nonfiction: History/Military Law
Available from

The lawyer's backstory of one of the most brilliant criminal defenses in American history in a case that changed Marine Corps training practices forever.

At 10:00 pm, April 13, 1956, attorney Thomas Costello boarded a train at New York’s Pennsylvania Station en route to Yemassee, South Carolina—the first leg of his voyage to the United States Marine Corps’ training depot on Parris Island to defend his brother-in-law, Staff Sergeant Matthew McKeon.

Five days earlier, McKeon had led a training exercise that went tragically wrong, resulting in the drowning deaths of six recruits. McKeon was immediately arrested, and, less than twenty-four hours later, Marine Commandant Pate made a press statement that essentially accused the young man of manslaughter before a court of inquiry even convened.

McKeon’s case would change US Marine training practices forever—that part of his story is well known. But Counsel for the Accused Marine Corps Drill Sergeant tells a different tale.

This is the story of Thomas Costello, defending his brother-in-law at the request of his wife. It’s the story of a legal team that worked tirelessly for six months in McKeon’s defense. And it’s the tale of the volunteer counselor who strategized and executed one of the most brilliant criminal defenses in American history: Emile Zola Berman.

Marie Costello-Inserra is an attorney of twenty-eight years, admitted to practice in New York and North Carolina and the daughter of Thomas Costello, the subject of this book.

Ms. Costello-Inserra is a graduate of Fordham University School of Law and currently resides in Cary, North Carolina with her husband of thirty four years, Paul Inserra. She is a Senior Assistant County Attorney in Durham County and a proud member of the North Carolina Writers' Network. The law and writing represent a career partnership in pursuit that has formally launched with publication of this family story of law, loyalty, and forgiveness.

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