Soldier charged in Okinawa traffic death granted bail
NAHA, Okinawa — A U.S. soldier charged in a fatal traffic crash was released on bail Tuesday.
Staff Sgt. Clyde Gunn was being held at the Naha Detention Center since his indictment Jan. 7. Gunn, 27, of Ocean Springs, Miss. — a combat medic with 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group at Torii Station — is charged with vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of a collision in the death of a 66-year-old Okinawa man on Nov. 7.
Gunn, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, has admitted his car struck something as he drove along a farmland road just before dawn, but said he found no victim after he stopped his car and looked around. The body of Masakazu Hokama was discovered in bushes by the side of the road about 12 hours later.
Gunn was released on 5 million yen bail (about $53,240) under the U.S. Army’s assurance that the soldier will be restricted to Torii Station, said Army spokesman Chip Steitz.
“The Army will ensure that Staff Sgt. Gunn complies with any and all conditions imposed by the court in connection with his bail to include attending court proceedings involving his trial,” Steitz said.
On Wednesday, Gunn made his fifth appearance at Naha District Court.
During the hearing, an Okinawa police investigator implied that Gunn could have been dozing off at the time of the crash. Kanjun Kiyan testified that a test proved the road was tilted toward the left shoulder, pointing to a drawing that marked how the police believed Gunn’s vehicle swerved onto the side of road, hitting Hokama, whose body then landed about 75 feet off the road.
Gunn’s defense attorney, Toshimitsu Takaesu, said that police failed to pinpoint the exact crash point, arguing that where the pedestrian was at the time of the crash was yet to be proved.
A date for the next hearing was not set.
Stars and Stripes reporter David Allen contributed to this story.