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Futenma Marines receive prison for robbing cab driver

By CHIYOMI SUMIDA | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 7, 2008

NAHA, Okinawa — Two Marines assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma were given prison sentences in a Japanese court Thursday for robbing a cab driver in January in Okinawa City.

Cpl. Joseph Wayne Riddle, 20, was sentenced in Naha District Court to 4 1/2 years in prison with forced labor, and Pfc. Reginald Crapps, 19, was given three to four years with forced labor.

They both pleaded guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing.

In the final argument last month, prosecutors had recommended an eight-year prison term for Riddle and five to eight years in prison for Crapps.

During sentencing, Chief Judge Hiroyuki Yoshii said he found Riddle and Crapps conspired and committed the robbery around 3:30 a.m. Jan. 7.

Riddle hit the 59-year-old driver from the back seat with a liquor bottle, while Crapps punched him in the face. They fled the scene without paying the fare of 2,780 yen (about $27).

The driver’s head and neck were injured, and his false teeth were knocked out, the judge said.

"The nature of the crime was extremely dangerous and malicious," he added.

At an earlier hearing, defense attorneys asked the court for leniency, arguing both Marines had rough childhoods in which they were bounced from one foster home to another.

Yoshii said Thursday that the court considered their deprived childhoods in determining sentencing.

He said he also considered Riddle’s previous plea to show leniency to Crapps, who is considered a juvenile in Japan. Riddle said the crime was solely his idea.

"That was a very appropriate attitude to demonstrate his sense of responsibility as an adult," Yoshii said.


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