Hit-and-run charge added in Okinawa soldier’s case
January 30, 2010
NAHA, Okinawa — A soldier charged with vehicular manslaughter now faces an additional charge of hit-and-run.
Staff Sgt. Clyde Gunn, 27, a Special Forces medic stationed at Torii Station, was indicted Wednesday in Naha District Court on the new charge of failing to render aid and report an accident. Japanese prosecutors allege he struck Masakazu Hokama, 66, on a narrow road through farmland in the village of Yomitan on Nov. 7.
“If convicted, he would probably receive a sentence of no more than two and a half years in prison, suspended,” Gunn’s attorney, Toshimitsu Takaesu, said Thursday.
Gunn is being held at Naha Detention Center pending trial. The court has denied bail, even though the Army has promised to make sure he does not leave Okinawa and attends all trial sessions.
Takaesu said Gunn refused to answer questions during the interrogation process. Early into the police investigation, he ceased to cooperate after saying his statements to police were being mistranslated.
Gunn demanded all questioning be videotaped with an attorney or a military representative present, a request the prosecutor’s office denied.
“During the past 20 days of detention, Gunn remained silent, and he will continue to remain silent unless the conditions we are requesting are met,” Takaesu said, adding that he will make a new motion to the court for bail.
Gunn, of Ocean Springs, Miss., is charged with striking Hokama “while driving inattentively” to his Yomitan apartment at 5:30 a.m. Okinawa police said he admitted he might have struck something with his car, but he saw no body when he stopped his car and looked around.
On Thursday, the Army said it was continuing to cooperate with Japanese authorities in the case.
“We respect the decision of the Japanese officials in the matter, as agreed to in the status of forces agreement,” said Chip Steitz, spokesman for the 10th Support Group on Torii Station. “We will continue to cooperate with the Japanese government in its ongoing investigation, and we will make sure that Staff Sgt. Gunn’s rights under the SOFA are complied with.”
Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this story.