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Pacific edition, Saturday, August 25, 2007

NAHA, Okinawa — Under intense cross-examination by a Japanese prosecutor Thursday, Darian Preston Daniels, a former Marine married to a sailor, maintained his claim that he had no forewarning that his friend would mug and cut the throat of a former airman on Hamahiga Island last October.

Daniels, 29, and Marine Sgt. Michael Avinger, 30, are charged with inflicting serious bodily injuries during the late-night incident in a remote area of the island.

“I was in a wrong place at a wrong time,” Daniels told a three-judge panel at Naha District Court. Prosecutor Katsuhiko Iwana maintained that Daniels should have at least realized what Avinger would do when he grabbed Bryant White, 23, from behind and put a knife to his throat.

“Why you did not stop him? Did you think it was all right for Avinger attacking the victim?” Iwana asked.

“I did not say it’s OK,” Daniels said, raising his voice. “From where I came from, when two people engage in an argument and if the guy is nothing to do with you, you stay away.”

Throughout the trial, which began in May 1, Daniels has denied any involvement in the attack, claiming Avinger acted alone. But that stance contradicts statements he made to police and prosecution immediately following his arrest.

“If it was all done by Avinger, why didn’t you tell it to police in the first place?” Iwana asked.

“In the United States, where I came from, you don’t snitch,” Daniels said. “If I did he would come to my house and mess with my wife and kids.”

He insisted that he made the earlier statements under duress.

“The truth is I did not take anything (from White),” he said, raising his voice even higher. “I did not cut his throat and I did not demand money. I stood and watched.”

Final arguments in the case against Daniels are set for Sept. 25. Avinger’s next hearing is set for Tuesday.

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