Marines give account of alleged mugging
NAHA — The second of two Marines accused of mugging a 20-year-old Japanese man in Ginowan last October testified Thursday that he stole money from the man but did not know why.
Cpl. Paul E. Mundell, 22, told the three-judge panel in Naha District Court that he took part in the Oct. 23 robbery in the Oyama district of Ginowan with his co-defendant, Lance Cpl. Joshua Major, 24.
Both Marines, of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, are charged with attacking the Japanese man at about 5:55 a.m. near the base. They both pleaded guilty at earlier sessions to committing a robbery resulting in an injury.
According to the indictments, Mundell and Major accosted the man while he was sitting on a curb of a local supermarket’s parking lot. After the man started walking away, the Marines followed and Major struck him in the face several times while Mundell grabbed him from behind.
During testimony at a hearing earlier this month, Major testified that he wanted to beat the man up but did not realize Mundell had taken the man’s wallet until after they grabbed a cab to return to the nearby base.
Mundell told the court he took the man’s wallet, containing about 4,000 yen, or about $36, as an afterthought.
“All I remember was that I had his wallet in my hand,” Mundell said. “And I don’t know why I did it — to this day.”
The attack occurred after Mundell, Major and another Marine, who was not charged, went on a drinking spree to celebrate completing rifle range training. Mundell said the trio consumed about four dozen bottles of beer in their barracks before they left the base.
They continued drinking at a pool hall near the air station. “We drank a lot, and we were pretty much intoxicated,” Mundell said.
Mundell’s attorney, Miyatomi Harushima, said the attack was not premeditated, pointing out that before the incident, his client had fallen asleep in a local supermarket’s bathroom.
During the two-hour testimony, Mundell expressed remorse.
“I’ve never been so sorry in my life,” he told the court, promising never to commit another crime. “I never want to break the heart of people and shame my country and my family.”
Prosecutor Tsuyoshi Satake stressed that Mundell and Major violated an order not to speak to each other while restricted to the base before their Nov. 25 indictment and transfer to Japanese police custody.
“They talked to each other in their barracks despite an order issued by their commanding officer not to,” Satake said, pointing out that co-defendants in Japanese custody never are allowed contact each other.
Mundell said, however, that he believed no orders precluded visiting each other.
The next session of their trial is set for March 12.