Ex-Marine Kenneth Shinzato sentenced to life in Okinawa rape and murder trial

Ex-Marine Kenneth Shinzato sentenced to life in Okinawa rape and murder trial

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato standing to receive his life sentence (left), and sitting back in his chair as the judge gave his reasons for judgement (Illustration by Yumiko Ai)


December 2, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo


Kenneth Franklin Shinzato (formerly Gadson) was given a life sentence for the April 2016 rape and murder of an Okinawan woman at his sentencing December 1 at the Naha District Court.

The 33-year old defendant remained silent throughout the trial. During the sentencing, there were angry shouts from Okinawan residents proclaiming the defendant, who was not forthcoming with the truth and did not apologize for his actions, “had no remorse,” and also claimed that, “the incident happened because of there are U.S. military bases.”

The victim’s family, who ask for capital punishment during the trial, said, “For us, every day is sadness and suffering.

That will probably continue for as long as we live,” and that with carrying such sadness, the trial was an afterthought.


At the outset of the sentencing, the presiding judge pointed to Shinzato and commanded that he, “must stand where he was. I sentence you to life in prison.”

As the judge read the sentence, reporters who rushed to fill the seats in the court in order to break the news of the sentencing immediately turned to Shinzato, who listened to the English interpretation of the sentence without expression.

When the victim’s parents heard the sentence, they rubbed their eyes, disappointed not to get the capital punishment they had requested.


Shinzato, who appeared in court wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, listened to the approximately 40 minute ruling leaning deeply in his chair resting his chin on his left hand.


A family whose daughter’s future was tragically ripped away just after her coming-of-age ceremony.

The father sat on the prosecution’s bench directly across from Shinzato, seated in the defendant’s chair.

Wearing funeral attire of a black shirt and suit, the father wiped his face repeatedly with a blue towel while listening to the verdict, and raised his head to look at the ceiling, nose completely red.


Occasionally, the father would come to look at Shinzato, and when their gazes would meet he would quickly close his eyes and look down.

The mother of the victim, who sat in the spectators’ gallery, covering her mouth with a pink handkerchief and wiping away tears again and again as the ruling was being read.

At times she would also stare in the direction of the defendant.


In giving his grounds for the decision, the judge read proclamations such as, “The parents who survive the victim have every right to demand capital punishment,” and “If the defendant had even a bit of respect for human life, he would have stopped at some point,” occasionally eliciting nods from the grieving parents.


As the defendant was being led from the courtroom, the victim’s mother covered both of her hands with her handkerchief and began to wail uncontrollably, her voice echoing throughout the chamber.

After the trial concluded, the mother was assisted out of the courtroom by some women who had accompanied the victim’s family to the trial.


(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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