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YOKOHAMA, Japan — U.S. Navy Seaman Olatunbosun Ugbogu did not suffer from schizophrenia when he killed a Japanese taxi driver last year, a court-appointed psychiatrist said at the sailor’s trial Tuesday.

Ugbogu, a Nigerian citizen and former USS Cowpens sailor, has maintained since his trial began in December that voices in his head ordered him to stab and kill 61-year-old taxi driver Masaaki Takahashi on March 19, 2008.

However, Taro Muramatsu, an associate professor in the Department of Neuropsychiatry of the Keio University School of Medicine, told a three-judge panel at Yokohama District Court that the step-by-step instructions from Ugbogu’s alleged voices weren’t consistent with a schizophrenia diagnosis.

"It is not possible for a person with schizophrenia to hear orders rationally and continuously, just like using communications equipment," Muramatsu said.

The voices shouldn’t have known the detailed geography of Shioiri, near Yokosuka, Muramatsu said.

According to court testimony, Ugbogu hailed the cab in Tokyo at Shinagawa Station, then asked the driver to turn into a dark side street after a roughly $200 ride before stabbing him in the neck.

Although Muramatsu does not believe Ugbogu heard voices at the time of the killing, he said he thinks Ugbogu might hear them now.

Ugbogu may have developed the voices as a defense mechanism, following the shock of the killing, the psychiatrist said. He may also be suffering from dissociative amnesia, which blots out memories following trauma.

The dissociative disorder may have first developed earlier in his life, the psychiatrist said.

"It appears the ‘voices’ have something to do with him covering up his dishonesty and unethical actions," Muramatsu said.

Defense attorney Yasutoshi Murakami argued against Muramatsu’s findings, saying that it wasn’t a psychiatrist’s role to make value judgments about Ugbogu.

During examination, Murakami built on his client’s insanity defense by asking why Ugbogu would have left his credit card in the taxi following the killing.

Muramatsu retorted that Ugbogu may have been in a hurry.

Murakami asked the court to allow him to call a defense psychiatric expert, but his motion was denied.

Ugbogu will testify again May 27, which is expected to be the final hearing before closing arguments are presented by both the prosecution and defense.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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