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NAHA, Okinawa — One of two Marines charged with mugging a Japanese man in Ginowan in October testified Thursday that he wanted to beat the man up, not steal his money.

Lance Cpl. Joshua Major, 24, is on trial in Naha District Court. He and co-defendant Cpl. Paul E. Mudell, 22, both pleaded guilty at an earlier session to robbery resulting in injury.

Both Marines are assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.

According to the indictments, they accosted a 20-year-old Japanese man in the Oyama district of Ginowan about 5:55 a.m. Oct. 23, knocking him down from behind and punching him in the face several times. The man claimed the Marines stole 4,000 yen, about $38.

When questioned Thursday, Major said he did not know any money had been taken from the victim until he got into a taxi after the attack.

“It was in a cab when [Mundell] gave me 2,000 yen,” Major said.

Stealing was not what he was seeking that night, he claimed, he wanted to fight.

“I was trying to start a fight and trying to be cool,” he said.

He said he and Mundell had been drinking all night, celebrating completion of training on a rifle range.

“We were celebrating Mundell and some others for doing really well on rifle range,” Major said, admitting that he had consumed about 27 cans of Budweiser in his barracks before leaving with Mundell and another Marine to drink out in town.

At a local supermarket, the trio saw a Japanese man they had mistaken as a gang member sitting on a curb in a parking lot, Major said. The man began to walk away and they followed him.

At some point, Major said, he and the man made eye contact.

“I took it as initiation to start a fight,” he said.

The man reported the assault to police and the three Marines were stopped at Futenma’s gate. Only Major and Mundell were identified as being involved in the attack and were turned over to Okinawa police when they were charged Nov. 25.

They have been in custody at the Naha Detention Center since being charged.

“I regret my action. I am sorry,” Major told the three-judge panel Thursday. He broke down, sobbing as defense attorney Masanori Higa said that Major has a six-year-old son in the States who “has been wondering why his father did not send him any Christmas gift or even a card.”

Major’s co-defendant is to testify in the next session, scheduled for February 26.


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