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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The U.S. Navy airman suspected of robbing and killing a Japanese woman was moved Monday morning from the Yokosuka Police Station to the Yokohama District Public Prosecutor’s Office.

A spokesman for the Kanagawa prefectural police confirmed that custody of William Oliver Reese was transferred in keeping with the Japanese policy of moving cases to the prosecutor’s office 48 hours after an arrest. The Navy handed Reese over to Japanese police Saturday.

Yokohama’s public prosecutor’s office could not be reached Monday, a Japanese holiday, but the Kanagawa police spokesman said the arrest warrant charges of robbery and murder against Reese likely will remain the same until the formal charges are filed within a maximum of 20 days.

Reese, a 21-year-old E-3 airman assigned to the USS Kitty Hawk, is suspected of killing Yoshie Sato in Yokosuka city on the morning of Jan. 3. Sato, 56, was on her way to work when Reese approached her to ask for taxi fare, according to a report by The Associated Press. The arrest warrant alleges Reese killed Sato by “punching and kicking her face and stomach” in an attempt to rob her of 15,000 yen (about $131) in cash.

Sato was found that morning on the first floor of a building near Yokosuka Chuo train station and died of internal injuries later that day at a local hospital.

The U.S. Navy handed Reese over to Japanese authorities because “it was absolutely the right thing to do,” Commander, Naval Forces Japan Rear Adm. James Kelly said in a written statement.

The handover was expedited though provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement and the 1995 and 2004 Joint Committee Agreements on Criminal Jurisdiction Procedures.

However, the U.S. Navy remains involved in the case and has provided a legal observer for Reese during questioning, said Commander, Naval Forces Japan spokesman Jon Nylander.

“The agreement allows us to provide an observer to insure the rights are protected,” Nylander said.

According to Japanese law, a maximum sentence for robbery resulting in death is capital punishment or life imprisonment.


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