Naha prosecutors bring additional charges against US military contractor in murder case

Naha prosecutors bring additional charges against US military contractor in murder case

Defendant Kenneth Franklin Shinzato (formerly Gadson) (Photograph from LinkedIn)

July 1, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On June 30, the Naha District Public Prosecutors Office brought additional charges of murder and rape leading to death against U.S. military contractor Kenneth Franklin Shinzato (formerly Gadson), 32, of Yonabaru Town, on the grounds that he assaulted a woman with the aim of raping her, and then murdered her. The defendant had previously been indicted on June 9 on the charge of abandoning the woman’s body in the central part of Okinawa Island. The trial will be a public trial with a jury. The Prosecutors Office has not revealed whether the defendant will plead innocent or guilty.

According to the written indictment, around 10 p.m. on April 28, the defendant assaulted a woman going for a walk in Uruma City with the intention of raping her, hit her on the head with a blow bar, then tied her hands and neck and stabbed her several times in the neck with a knife. He then attempted to rape her but failed. In the process, the woman died.

The Prosecutors Office is charging the defendant with murder and rape leading to murder, based on its recognition that the defendant attacked the woman with the aim of raping her, and that his actions were carried out with murderous intent. It has revealed neither specific details of the weapons used, nor whether the weapons have been found.

Regarding the defendant’s indictment for the two crimes, his lawyer, Toshimitsu Takaesu, has not revealed any details of the defendant’s testimony or plea, saying, “I have not seen the written indictment, and have no comment to make at the present moment.” He said that going forward he will confirm the written indictment and the evidence with the defendant, and discuss with him how to proceed.

The defendant was initially arrested on suspicion of having abandoned the woman’s body in the northern part of Okinawa Island, and was officially charged on June 9. On the same day, the prefectural police re-arrested him on suspicion of raping and murdering the woman. Before being arrested on suspicion of abandoning the woman’s body, the defendant had testified in response to police questioning that he had attacked her for the purpose of raping her, and stabbed her with a knife.

According to investigators, the defendant hinted from the start that he had murdered the woman, and testified that he had hit her with a 30-40 centimeter self-defense stick. A stick matching his description was found in a canal in Uruma City. Since May 20, the defendant has maintained silence, and the knife he used has not yet been found.

In response to the incident, a mass rally was held on June 19 in Naha City at which 65,000 people (according to organizer estimates) gathered to demand the withdrawal of the U.S. Marines from Okinawa. The U.S. military announced a period of mourning to last until June 28 during which military personnel would not be allowed to consume alcohol off base, but during that period, two U.S. Marines were arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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