Former Okinawa base worker to appeal murder conviction that gave him life in prison
By HANA KUSUMOTO | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 13, 2017
TOKYO — A former U.S. base worker sentenced to life imprisonment earlier this month for the killing of a 20-year-old Okinawan woman wants to appeal the verdict.
Kenneth Franklin Gadson, 33, who was a civilian employee at a Kadena Air Base cable and internet provider at the time of his arrest last spring, submitted a petition of appeal Tuesday to the Naha Branch of Fukuoka High Court, his attorney, Toshimitsu Takaesu, told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday. Gadson “said he objects to the rendered judgment,” Takaesu said.
Gadson, a former Marine, was found guilty Dec. 1 by the Naha District Court of murder, rape resulting in death and the illegal disposal of a body in the slaying of Uruma office worker Rina Shimabukuro. He had admitted to the rape and body disposal charges but denied he intended to kill her.
Shimabukuro disappeared after going out for a walk on the night of April 28, 2016. Gadson became a suspect after police spotted his SUV on security camera footage taken from where she went missing. Police said he admitted to strangling Shimabukuro and led them to her body.
A panel of three judges and six jurors concluded that while Gadson may not have planned to kill Shimabukuro when he attacked her, that quickly changed after he struck her from behind and she screamed and fought back. Prosecutors had presented a statement Gadson gave to police admitting to strangling Shimabukuro and providing details of the attack.
Gadson told Takaesu that he doesn’t remember what he told the police since he was under the influence of sleeping pills at the time of the confession due to a suicide attempt.
“He objects that the statement given soon after the arrest was accepted as evidence and that the murder charge was recognized” by the court, Takaesu said.
Gadson gave a written statement to the court saying he did not stab the victim after he attacked her but poked her with a knife to make sure she was dead before disposing of her body.
“He said he objects that the ruling accused him of lying and trying to support his argument in the statement he later gave,” Takaesu said.
A court date for Gadson’s appeal had not been set as of Wednesday, Takaesu said.