Former Okinawa military spouse is convicted in stepson’s murder
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A former Okinawa military spouse was found guilty Thursday of murdering his 8-year-old stepson while they were stationed at Kadena Air Base in 2007, a federal prosecutor said.
Roberto DeLeon, 27, was convicted after a three-week jury trial in Baltimore of beating and killing Jordan Peterson.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said that DeLeon has “been held accountable for the murder” of his stepson.
“Although the murder did not occur on a U.S. military base, federal law allows us to prosecute persons who accompany our armed forces for crimes committed in foreign countries,” Rosenstein said in a news release.
DeLeon faces a mandatory minimum term of 30 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life, according to the Justice Department. He will be sentenced Jan. 6.
Jordan died from “the shock of excessive bleeding caused by recent damage to the liver,” Japanese prosecutors told Stars and Stripes when charges against DeLeon were dropped by Okinawan authorities in 2007 for lack of evidence.
Because the murder took place at an off-base residence, the military did not have jurisdiction. Air Force prosecutors forwarded the case to the U.S. Justice Department, which extradited DeLeon under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.
The case caused a furor on Okinawa in 2007 when Stars and Stripes revealed prefectural welfare workers knew months before the murder the boy had been abused.
Hisa Uechi, 24, who testified as a witness at the federal court in Baltimore, found a bruised Jordan walking shoeless in the street on a cold November in Uruma, five months before the murder. She offered him a pair of shoes from a nearby clothing store.
“But he adamantly refused, saying that it would end up with his stepfather doing ‘bad things to him,’ ” Uechi said in a Friday phone interview with Stars and Stripes, repeating what she had said in court.
Uechi called a local children’s shelter and was instructed to first report the incident to the police.
Jordan was taken to Uruma police station for protective custody, but police released him that evening back to DeLeon and Jordan’s mother, Air Force Staff Sgt. Sabrina Renee DeLeon.
Okinawa officials told Stars and Stripes in August that Jordan’s death led to a new system for reporting abuse allegations.
Uechi said she felt a deep sense of relief when she heard the verdict.
“Although it has been [nearly] three years since the incident took place, in my heart, time just stopped there,” she said. “I feel that the little boy was finally treated with the respect he well deserved.”