Marine gets 8 years for throat-slashing attack
November 10, 2007
NAHA, Okinawa — Marine Sgt. Michael Avinger maintained composure Thursday at Naha District Court as judges sentenced him to eight years in prison for the throat-cutting robbery of an American.
In stark contrast to his co-defendant, Darian Preston Daniels, 29, who lunged toward victim Bryant White, 23, during sentencing last week, Avinger entered the courtroom with a Bible in his handcuffed hands.
He listened to the verdict via an interpreter, while occasionally nodding in acceptance. White was not among about 20 observers in the courtroom Thursday.
Avinger, 30, assigned to Camp Schwab, and Daniels were charged with robbery and cutting White’s throat in October 2006 in a remote area on Hamahiga Island and leaving White for dead.
Daniels and White, a former airman, worked together at a local furniture company. During his trial, Daniels said the incident was over a failed marijuana deal between Avinger and White.
With a signal from Daniels — drawing his finger across his neck — Avinger slit White’s throat, pushing him to the ground, and Daniels sorted through White’s pockets, Chief Judge Hiroyuki Yoshii said.
Avinger admitted to cutting White’s throat with a combat knife, but argued that he only intended to inflict a flesh wound to make it look to an angry Daniels that White was mortally wounded. Avinger said he acted only to save White.
White suffered from a 7-inch wound across his neck.
The three-judge panel, however, found that Avinger and Daniels acted together to rob White of $2,000 that Daniels had seen White’s wife throw at her husband at their home during an argument between the couple.
“By luring the victim to a remote area, the defendant grabbed the victim from behind, demanding money and cut the throat with a knife,” Yoshii said.
Yoshii called Avinger’s “flesh wound” excuse unconvincing and incoherent.
“The defendant’s argument lacks credibility. He attempts to blame the crime solely on Daniels,” he said. “The extremely vicious and inhuman behavior leaves no room for leniency.”
The prosecution had sought a 10-year prison term.