Brown's defense targets lead investigator
NAHA, Okinawa — Defense attorneys grilled the lead investigator of attempted rape charges against Marine Maj. Michael Brown for six hours Tuesday, attempting to focus the court’s attention on her credibility.
Among disclosures in her marathon testimony: Brown’s accuser made twice as many statements to police as previously disclosed and, in her first statement, made no mention of attempted sexual assault.
The omission was a police oversight, the investigator testified.
Brown, 41, is accused of trying to rape Victoria Nakamine, also 41, on Nov. 2, 2002, when Nakamine, a Camp Courtney Officers Club cashier and waitress, was driving him to his home. Indicted Dec. 19, 2002, he pleaded not guilty.
During the intense cross-examination in Naha District Court on Tuesday, Okinawa policewoman Kyoko Yamane disclosed that six statements were taken from Nakamine, although prosecutors entered only three as evidence. Under questioning, she also testified that some details of the incident not included in Nakamine’s first statement were added in subsequent statements to make a better case for attempted rape.
Nakamine’s first statement, on Nov. 2, made no mention of her subsequent accusations that Brown tried to have sex with her when she stopped the car on a deserted lane at 2 a.m. to talk, Yamane said.
“It is regrettable that I did not include everything in the first statement,” the police officer said.
Yamane testified that she interviewed Nakamine at the Gushikawa Police Station at 4 a.m. She said Nakamine was angry and wanted police to catch the “high-ranking officer” who had attacked her. But the statement Yamane wrote and had Nakamine sign made no mention of subsequent accusations that Brown removed Nakamine’s undergarments and attempted intercourse.
After Nakamine put her official stamp on the statement, she asked Yamane to wait to file any charges until she consulted with her employer, an agency that provides temporary workers for Marine bases.
Nakamine said she wanted to determine that going ahead with the serious charge would not damage her employer’s business, the policewoman said.
In the meantime, the policewoman testified, she realized Nakamine’s initial statement had some holes.
She said she filled them in subsequent versions, beginning Nov. 8, 2002, when Nakamine decided to press charges against Brown. The policewoman denied she made anything up.
Defense attorney Takeshi Takano’s cross-examination appeared to be aimed at showing that Nakamine, although a Philippine national married to a Japanese man for 17 years, could not read or write Japanese and didn’t know the content of the statements she signed.
Yamane said Nakamine spoke Japanese well and all their interviews were in Japanese; however, it was apparent the written language was an obstacle. On the first statement she made to Yamane, Nakamine’s official signature stamp was upside down, according to documents presented as evidence.
Many misspellings of her name and mistranslated English words were left uncorrected in the statements, Takano showed.
He showed that an injury report, supposedly in Nakamine’s own words and detailing bruised arms and a sore neck, was copied directly from a doctor’s report and used medical terminology.
Lead defense attorney Toshimitsu Takaesu said Takano’s goal Tuesday was to bolster Nakamine’s previous testimony that police and prosecutors coerced her into filing charges against Brown.
Yamane broke down briefly on the witness stand Tuesday when she related how she had befriended Nakamine because she felt sorry for the “pain victims of sexual crimes go through.”
Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment Tuesday. The next hearing in the case is set for Friday.
Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.