YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A U.S. sailor told police he was a “balloon ready to pop” before he snapped and stabbed two Japanese women last summer.

At his hearing Thursday, USS Gary sailor Joshua David Williams told the Yokohama District Court in Yokosuka that stress — from his personal life and from the Navy — caused him to stab the 16-year-old “Lady A” and 26-year-old “Lady S” on the morning of July 5.

“I was a cup of water that was full. A couple more drops sent me over the edge,” Williams said when he took the stand in his second trial proceeding.

Williams, 20, is accused of attempting to murder the two women, whose names are not being used in the trial. He is accused of stabbing Lady A in the abdomen, piercing her liver, and stabbing Lady S 17 times in the back, shoulder, waist and head.

The sailor previously admitted to the stabbings but said Thursday that he “subconsciously didn’t want to hurt them.”

Last month, the victims testified — from behind a screen that separated them from the defendant and the gallery — that Williams intended to kill them, but that they escaped before he could.

The incident took place in a three-story Yokosuka home rented by a U.S. sailor formerly engaged to the 16-year-old Lady A. The fiance was absent when Williams showed up uninvited to a small gathering Lady A was hosting at the house, according to court documents.

The house was supposed to be his “escape” from financial and work stress, he said, but instead, he found the atmosphere “hostile” and that Lady A had “changed” from previously being his friend.

“I was wondering why her attitude changed,” he said. “I didn’t know why; I didn’t do anything.”

Court documents stated that Williams took a knife from the kitchen and was playing with it. Lady A got angry, took the knife away and drove it into the floor.

Around 8 a.m., Lady A told Williams to leave.

Tired from a sleepless night, knowing that he was in trouble with the Navy for breaking curfew, and upset at Lady A’s changing attitude, Williams said “the situation sent me over the edge.”

He stabbed Lady A in the stomach, then left the room and stabbed Lady S on the stairs as she was coming to help her friend, he said.

He said he aimed for Lady S’s right shoulder as he “subconsciously knew this was a not-vital” part of the body to stab, he said.

Both the prosecutor and the judges questioned that assertion, pointing out that she had multiple wounds on her body. Williams admitted he continued to stab her as she was falling down the stairs, he said. He did it because his subconscious didn’t want her to run out of the house bleeding, he said.

“I didn’t know how many times I stabbed her,” Williams said. “I told the police it felt like three or four times, not 17.”

Williams said he threw the knife to the side when he realized “what I was doing and when I saw the blood.”

Lady S barricaded herself in the washroom, and Lady A had already jumped off the balcony.

According to previous testimony, Williams was apprehended by Japanese authorities at the Yokosuka Chuo train station when he went looking for Lady A to see if she was all right, he said.

Williams’ defense attorney Yasutoshi Murakami pointed out that the right-handed Williams used his left hand in the stabbings and questioned Williams about his childhood. Williams’ mother died when he was a toddler and his father physically abused him to the point of broken bones, he said.

Murakami also asked Williams about other sources of pre-incident stress, including debt and dealing with a complaint to the Navy that Williams wasn’t paying child support for his young son.

The attorney also referenced a statement that Williams made to the police that he was a “balloon ready to pop.”

The sailor agreed that at the time of the stabbing, he was “having a nervous breakdown.”

He maintains he did not intend to kill the women and said Thursday that he harbors no ill will for their characterization of him.

“I pray for them,” Williams said. “I have no feelings of resentment.”

The Gary, which previously was based in Yokosuka, has since left Japan for San Diego.

The last trial proceeding is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. April 24 in Yokosuka.

author picture
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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