NAHA, Okinawa — The death of Jordan Peterson is no longer a matter for the Japanese legal system.

A Japanese prosecutor Friday said his office has closed its investigation into the death of the 8-year-old American boy and does not plan to indict the man they said was their only suspect, the boy’s stepfather.

The man, Roberto Deleon, 25, is married to an Air Force staff sergeant.

The case is now in the hands of the Air Force, which will hand it off to the U.S. Justice Department, said Maj. Dani Johnson, a Kadena spokeswoman.

Okinawa police opened the investigation on April 11 when the boy was pronounced dead at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Lester. An autopsy showed he died of massive internal bleeding caused by an injury of a suspicious nature.

On May 16, Deleon was arrested by Okinawa police on suspicion of causing the injuries that led to the boy’s death.

Deleon, who adamantly denied the accusation, was released from the Naha Detention Center June 6 after the 23-day deadline for keeping suspects in custody prior to indictment.

“Since he is not in the military, we don’t have jurisdiction,” Johnson said. Dependents of military personnel and Defense Department civilians and contractors can be charged with federal crimes under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.

The MEJA, as it is called, was passed in 2000. It created a new federal crime for acts committed outside the U.S. that would have been felonies if committed on federal lands in the U.S. The cases can be tried by any federal court.

“We end up being an intermediary,” Johnson said. “Our legal people will send a package through the Department of Defense, which will forward it to the Department of Justice, which will decide whether to prosecute or not.”

She said the package will include everything accumulated during the investigation. Air Force investigators assisted the Okinawa police in the probe.

Deleon has since left the country, said an American lawyer familiar with the case.

“He’s gone,” said Annette Eddie-Callagain, an American lawyer licensed to practice in Japan. “His father flew here from the States to assist him and I am sure he left the island with him after his release from custody.”

Hirokazu Urata, deputy chief prosecutor for the Naha District Public Prosecutor’s Office, said there was “not enough evidence to prove a criminal act directly connected to the death of boy.”

“The autopsy stated he died from the shock of excessive bleeding caused by recent damage to the liver — within 24 hours of his death,” Urata said. “It stated a criminal act was highly possible. However, there is insufficient evidence that the suspect inflicted the fatal injury.”

Unless someone witnessed a beating, “there is still reasonable doubt,” Urata said.

He said the boy’s 10-year-old sister said she had never seen her stepfather beat her brother and Deleon’s wife denied she had ever witnessed any abuse.

Eddie-Callagain said she was not surprised that the case was dropped.

“I can clearly understand the prosecutor’s decision,” she said. “There was no evidence to show foul play. Was he beaten? Did he fall or stumble? The home has steep stairs.”

Eddie-Callagain is a former Air Force lawyer with 24 years of service, 12 of them on active duty specializing in international law. She was an adviser to Deleon and the Japanese criminal lawyer who was to represent him in court if he was indicted.

“They didn’t have anything other than an autopsy that showed massive internal bleeding,” Eddie-Callagain said. “But how did it happen? What caused it? There were just too many possibilities.”

She said Deleon and his wife, Sabrina, 29, left the boy and his sister alone at home the night of April 10 to attend college classes. When they returned, both children were in bed.

Roberto Deleon was alone with the children the next day after his wife went to work.

“The next morning the boy wakes up late and complains that his stomach and head hurt,” Eddie-Callagain said. “But he apparently had a habit of complaining, especially if he thought he was going to be in trouble or wanted to get out of doing a chore like washing the dishes.”

“Later, when he said he couldn’t eat his cereal, he was told to go take a shower,” Eddie-Callagain said. “That’s where he started convulsing.”

Deleon called his wife at work and she sped to the house with a military ambulance.

“He was in a panic,” the lawyer said. “He didn’t know what to do or what had happened to Jordan.”

The only thing found out of the ordinary in the house was the boy’s bed was damaged, Eddie-Callagain said. “The mattress was tilted to one side and touching the floor and a board had been broken.”

Citing privacy issues, Air Force and DODDS officials would not comment on whether any reports of abuse were made prior to Jordan Peterson’s death.

Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now