Jail time sought for two Okinawa Marines in attack on taxi driver
June 9, 2006
NAHA, Okinawa — A Naha District public prosecutor Wednesday demanded prison sentences for two Marines charged with robbing a cab driver on Camp Foster in January.
In final arguments in Naha District Court, Prosecutor Masahisa Yokota sought a five-year prison term for Lance Cpl. Henry Dwayne Morgan, 20, and a four-year sentence for Lance Cpl. Reginald Q. Lowery Jr., 21. Both are with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Camp Foster.
The defense lawyers asked for suspended sentences, saying that the driver accepted apologies from the two Marines.
The sentencing is scheduled for July 5.
According to evidence presented at a previous hearing, Morgan, Lowery and a third Marine who has not been named plotted the robbery Jan. 7 while drinking in their Camp Foster barracks. The third Marine called for the cab and Morgan walked up to the taxi as it arrived, displayed a knife and demanded money.
Calling the crime premeditated and bold, Yokota argued that there was no room for extenuating circumstances.
Morgan and Lowery pleaded guilty during an April court appearance. According to evidence, Morgan sneaked out of a barracks room window to avoid the Marine on duty. After the robbery, he jumped back into the barracks through the ground floor window of another room.
“They called a taxi and [Morgan] attacked the driver,” Yokota said, calling the crime “very dangerous and despicable.”
The cabbie, Tetsuo Hamazato, 62, handed over a box containing about 5,000 yen ($44) and $5 in U.S. currency. He was not physically harmed. The money was divided among the three, with the unnamed Marine receiving 200 yen and Morgan and Lowery splitting the rest evenly, Yokota said in the previous session.
“The victim was attacked on a military base, where it is supposed to be a safe and secured place,” Yokota said during final arguments. “The fear and anxiety the crime gave to the community was serious and grave.”
Military police took the two Marines into custody Jan. 27 after an extensive investigation by Okinawa police and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. They were turned over to Japanese officials on Feb. 10.
Morgan expressed remorse again at Wednesday’s session, saying, “I didn’t mean to harm him and I am really sorry for my action.”
Lowery also apologized to the victim and his family, saying, “Whatever the punishment, I will accept it.”
Morgan said all three were drunk when they planned and committed the robbery, having consumed about a half-dozen bottles of beer and almost two quart bottles of whiskey.
“If I hadn’t been drunk, I wouldn’t have done that,” he said. He said that they started drinking at about 7 p.m. “I wasn’t thinking clearly.”
He said the third Marine masterminded the robbery, providing him with a knife and hooded sweater and calling the taxi.
“He designated me to do it because I was the shortest and fastest of the three,” Morgan said.
The prosecutor asked where the third Marine was now. Morgan said he believed the Marine was discharged from the military and sent back to the States.