YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Judges ruled Thursday that U.S. Navy sailor Joshua David Williams’ actions spoke louder than his words and sentenced him to eight years in prison for attempting to murder two Japanese women.

Williams’ claim that he didn’t intend to kill the women was "inconsistent," "unnatural" and "irrational" since he attacked the 16-year-old "Lady A" and the 26-year-old "Lady S" with a 4.5-inch kitchen knife on the morning of July 5, 2007, presiding Judge Kazuyo Inomata said in the Yokohama District Court in Yokosuka.

"We have no reasonable doubt this was attempted murder," Inomata said. "He had a strong and persistent desire to attack."

The judge, reading from a statement, recounted the events of that morning when Williams, then a 19-year-old assigned to the USS Gary, appeared uninvited at a Yokosuka home where Lady A was staying.

There were two other sailors at the house as well as Lady S, but Williams knew only Lady A and picked up a kitchen knife after feeling ignored by the girl, according to testimony.

Hours later, after the sailors left, Williams drove the knife into Lady A’s abdomen after she ordered him out of the house. Lady S heard the yelling and moved toward the room, but Williams intercepted her on the stairway, stabbing and slashing her 17 times in the back, chest and head.

Lady S shut herself in the washroom; Lady A jumped out of a window. The judges characterized their actions as escaping from a murderous Williams.

Williams testified that once he realized what happened, he stopped of his own accord. He fled the house and was arrested at a nearby train station by police, who questioned him about the stains on his clothes.

The judges, calling Williams’ motives "very selfish," said the stab wounds in his victims could easily have been mortal and showed that he meant to kill.

Williams, now 20, in civilian attire, remained impassive as the judges read the sentence of eight years’ imprisonment with forced labor, minus the 220 days the sailor had already been detained. Williams’ attorney, Yasutoshi Murakami, said after the hearing he was unsure if Williams would appeal the ruling.

Murakami said their defense — that Williams stabbed the women because of a nervous breakdown from stress, amplified by a history of abuse, and that Williams never meant to kill anyone — was overlooked by the judges.

Masanori Yamazaki, who watched Thursday’s proceedings, called Williams’ sentence "light."

Yamazaki said the situation was similar to what happened to his fiancé, Yoshie Sato, who was fatally beaten by a USS Kitty Hawk sailor in 2006.

"One wrong move could have killed them — just like Yoshie," Yamazaki said. "U.S. forces say they have disciplined [servicemembers] or have taken measures, but it’s just words. Incidents like this have not gone away."

Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan spokesman Jon Nylander said Thursday the Navy works closely with the Japanese police and judicial authorities in the event a sailor violates the law.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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