UIJEONGBU, South Korea — A U.S. soldier accused of beating and robbing a South Korean taxi driver likely will serve time in prison for the March 26 assault, his defense attorney predicted Friday.
After a short session in Uijeongbu District Court, defense attorney Jung Jin-sung said he thinks Pvt. Michael Curtis Adams, 21, will be sentenced to 2½ to three years in prison for attacking 66-year-old taxi driver Yoon Boon-ha.
One reason, he said, is that his client has been unable to pay a settlement to the taxi driver — a common practice in South Korean courts that judges take into consideration when weighing sentences.
Jung said that the driver, who initially sought a 50 million won settlement (about $54,000) from the soldier, now has dropped his request to 20 million won (about $22,000).
Jung said his client offered to pay the driver about $5,500, but the driver rejected the offer. The driver was unavailable for comment Friday.
During Friday’s court session, Jung told the court the driver’s settlement request was “ridiculous.”
He also told the judge, Cho Yoon-sin, that his client is young, stationed far from home, has confessed to the crime and is sorry for his actions.
Jung also pointed out inconsistent statements from the driver as to whether the soldier struck him with a bottle during the attack and whether the soldier choked him.
Prosecutor Park Ji-yong argued that the elderly driver suffered injuries in the attack and that the judge should sentence Adams to five years in prison.
The judge asked Adams through a translator whether he wanted to make a statement.
Adams, clad in a beige South Korean prison uniform and white tennis shoes, wore a neatly groomed goatee and had shaved his hair into a spiked Mohawk.
Sighing heavily, Adams stood, turned to the translator, and said he was “truly sorry” and that he was “ready to serve” his time.
U.S. military officials said Adams’ unit delivered his uniform, which he should wear during the trial but didn’t.
Jung said his client claims the uniform is too small, which is why he wore the prison-issued clothing. He also said he was surprised his client wasn’t maintaining military grooming standards but that Adams hadn’t said anything about why he was wearing the goatee or Mohawk.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled July 20.
Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.