Military jury recommends life term for Iwakuni Marine in Hawaii murder
By NANEA KALANI | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser (MCT) | Published: April 27, 2014
A military jury is recommending that Master Sgt. Nathaniel Cosby spend the rest of his life in prison and be dishonorably discharged, after finding the 39-year-old Marine guilty last week of killing a prostitute in his Waikiki hotel room.
Cosby was convicted Thursday in the May 16 death of Ivanice "Ivy" Harris, who was two days shy of her 29th birthday.
An eight-member jury made up of four enlisted service members and four commissioned officers on Thursday found Cosby guilty of "murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act," an offense that carries a maximum term of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The conviction automatically results in forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
Cosby also was found guilty of obstructing justice and attempting to patronize a prostitute.
The life term was recommended Saturday, after the sentencing phase of Cosby's court-martial at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay.
The jury's decision will be reviewed by Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, commander of U.S. Marine Forces Pacific and the court-martial's convening authority.
Robling will need to issue a decision within 120 days either agreeing with the sentence or reducing the penalty, according to a spokes- man for Marine Forces Pacific.
"I am pleased that the court-martial process worked and reached a just verdict," Robling said in a joint statement issued Saturday by the Marine Corps and the city prosecutor's office. "At the same time, we should not forget the young lady who was the victim in this case and take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathy to Ms. Ivy Harris' family and friends. This is obviously an unfortunate and very sad occasion for all concerned — the loss of a young life and the career of a U.S. Marine."
If sentenced to life, Cosby, who remains in confinement at the brig on Ford Island, would be transferred to the maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the spokesman said.
Cosby, who was in Hawaii on a temporary assignment from Iwakuni, Japan, and Harris, an Oregon native, had a confrontation early on May 16 in Cosby's Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel room.
Cosby initially told police he didn't know what happened to Harris.
But after the government laid out a case connecting security camera images of Cosby, bank transactions and cellphone pings out to the Waianae Coast, Cosby admitted he killed Harris after a night of drinking but claimed it was self-defense.
Cosby said at his court-martial that Harris demanded money, cut him with a small knife as he tried to get her out of his room, and that she died after he put her in a chokehold.
He admitted dumping her naked body near Yokohama Bay, where a boy relieving himself by the side of the road discovered her body four days later.
The Medical Examiner's Office said her death was caused by a neck injury.
Harris was visiting Hawaii to celebrate her 29th birthday with her boyfriend, who was also her pimp.
In the statement from the Marine Corps and the city, Harris' family thanked the Marines, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and local law enforcement "for bringing Ivanice's murderer to justice."
"We've had peace throughout this process knowing that somebody had our baby's back," the statement said. "Ivanice was a gift to the world and is survived by a very close-knit, loving family who will continue to live on because that is what she would have wanted."