U.S. soldier given only 32 months in jail over fatal Okinawa hit-and-run

Mainichi Shimbun

NAHA (Kyodo) -- An Okinawa district court sentenced a U.S. Army serviceman to 32 months in jail on Friday for causing a fatal hit-and-run accident last November in the southern Japanese prefecture.

Presiding Judge Nobuhiro Takamori of the Naha District Court found Clyde Gunn, a 28-year-old staff sergeant at the Torii Communication Station, guilty of knocking down Masakazu Hokama, 66, and fleeing the scene at around 5:50 a.m. on Nov. 7 when Hokama was taking a walk in the village of Yomitan.

Hokama died after suffering a broken neck and other injuries.

The Naha District Public Prosecutors Office argued at the courthouse Gunn is not repentant about his acts as he argued he could not avoid hitting Hokama in the dark surroundings at the sparsely populated scene.

A lawyer for Gunn said he could not foresee that someone would be taking a walk in such early morning hours in the area lacking street lamps.

Gunn refused to show up for additional questioning by Okinawa prefectural police investigators after being questioned three times.

The local police then sent papers on the case to the prosecutors, who indicted him in January on a charge of hit-and-run resulting in the death of Hokama.

After this procedure was taken, the U.S. military handed over Gunn into Japanese custody in accordance with the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement.

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