OKINAWA CITY — A 23-year-old former Marine pleaded guilty Wednesday in a Japanese court to attacking an Okinawa cab driver in January and stealing about $65.80 worth of Japanese coins.

An Okinawa police report states Errol Jackson committed the crime believing authorities would send him on a flight back to States. But his wife testified Wednesday she was pressuring him to help her repay about $26,000 she owes.

Jackson admitted to accusations prosecutor Takahiro Sumikawa made at Wednesday’s two-hour opening hearing. Flanked by two guards, Jackson listened to the proceedings with his head down, occasionally seeming to fight tears.

Sumikawa said Jackson hailed a cab about 3:50 a.m. Jan. 12 in Okinawa City, grabbed the 55-year-old driver from behind and punched him in the head several times. After the driver, Morimasa Taba, managed to escape, Jackson grabbed an aluminum box containing the coins and took off, Sumikawa said.

He put some of the coins in his pockets and threw away the rest of the cash, the coin box and other items, including a black T-shirt he was wearing at the time of the attack, the prosecutor said. Shortly after, Sumikawa said, police spotted Jackson buying soda from a vending machine, questioned him and noticed he possessed a large amount of change.

Jackson initially denied the accusation. However, police found the coin box, more cash and passports belonging to Jackson and his wife near the crime scene, Sumikawa said.

The prosecutor said the driver told him the attack horrified him, especially because it occurred just days after a cabbie was robbed at knifepoint on Camp Foster.

“The first thing that came into my mind was that I might be killed,” Taba said, according to a statement read by Sumikawa, who said the driver still has flashbacks from the “horror” of that night.

According to an Okinawa police report, Jackson argued with his wife earlier that night, then committed the crime in hopes his arrest would earn him automatic repatriation to the United States.

Jackson was last in the States in December, when he was escorted under Marine guard after serving 14 months in Camp Hansen’s brig for unauthorized absence and larceny, the prosecutor said. But he returned to Okinawa to rejoin his Japanese wife and her three children.

Jackson’s attorney, Satoshi Kawamitsu, said the former Marine’s true motive in the cabbie assault may have been something else. He said the couple had fought over money the night of the robbery.

Jackson’s wife, Naomi, testified that she was also at fault.

“I have 3.1 million yen (about $26,000) in debts that I have to pay in daily installments,” she testified. “Had I not been panicked and had I not pressured him to raise money, he would never be in this courtroom today.

“Although he is the one who committed the crime, I feel that I am equally responsible,” she said as Jackson, who sat in a bench behind her, fought back tears.

The next court session is scheduled for April 12.

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