NAHA, Okinawa — It was a pot deal that went bad.

That’s the story Darian Preston Daniels stuck to for his three hours on the stand Tuesday during his trial for taking part in robbing a friend Oct. 25 and leaving him for dead.

Daniels, 29, a former Marine and the husband of a sailor, said he was merely acting as a liaison between two friends the night Marine Sgt. Michael Avinger, 30, slit Bryant White’s throat on Hamahiga Island.

Daniels said he was “like a brother” to Avinger since both men belonged to the same street gang, the Crips, back in the U.S. They came from different chapters of the infamous gang and didn’t know one another, but they met on Okinawa on Camp Courtney in August 2004, he said.

However, since the trial started May 1, the bond has been broken and they’ve each attempted to blame the other for the vicious mugging. Last week, Avinger said he cut White’s throat to save the man’s life, thinking Daniels would kill White if he didn’t act first.

He testified he intended just to make it look like White was dying, but he cut the man’s throat more deeply than he intended.

At the opening of the trial, White, 23, a former airman, claimed he was lured to the island on the promise they were going to meet some girls and was attacked by both men, who demanded a large amount of money Daniels had seen White’s wife throw at him during an argument on Oct. 17. He said Avinger sliced his throat, leaving a 7-inch scar, after Daniels demanded his money.

On Tuesday, Daniels said he had nothing to do with the robbery.

“It wasn’t supposed to be a crime scene,” he said. “It was supposed to be a marijuana transaction.”

Daniels said Avinger wanted to buy some marijuana from White and he drove with White to Hamahiga Island, following Avinger in a separate car, to make the purchase. He said he was leaning against his car watching White and Avinger talk when Avinger suddenly grabbed White and pressed a knife against his throat.

He said he heard Avinger ask White about the money and the marijuana.

White denied having any money. Then Daniels said he heard Avinger say: “If you don’t want me to kill you, stop playing with me.”

They talked some more, Daniels said.

“This is about your mouth writing checks your butt has to cash,” Daniels said he heard Avinger tell White.

Then Avinger cut White’s throat, Daniels said.

“Why didn’t you stop him?” the prosecutor asked.

“What was I supposed to do?” Daniels responded, raising his voice. “In the States — the United States — where I’m from, you don’t put a knife to someone’s throat unless you’re going to use it. So there was nothing I could say.”

Daniels said he never intended to rob White.

He said he signed a confession on Nov. 14 only because he was under duress after 21 days of interrogation by police.

“The police threatened the welfare of my wife and kids,” Daniels said.

The detectives told him that Avinger had confessed and implicated Daniel’s wife and threatened to arrest her on a charge of conspiracy if he did not admit his involvement, he testified.

“I wasn’t going to let them take my wife,” he said. “So, if they brought my wife in who would take care of my kids? So I told them what they wanted to hear, any man would do that if he loves his family.”

The next hearing in the case is set for June 26, when Daniels is scheduled to personally cross-examine Avinger.

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