Suspect refused to pay $50,000 as apology to throat-slashing victim
July 21, 2007
NAHA, Okinawa — Remorse came at too high a price.
That’s what Darian Preston Daniels said Thursday during his trial for inflicting bodily injury during an alleged botched mugging last October on Hamahiga Island.
While under examination by his defense attorney, Masayuki Akamine, Daniels, 29, a former Marine married to a sailor, said he at first offered $2,000 in cash, a wristwatch and a letter of apology to his friend, Bryant White, 23, whose throat was slit in an altercation with Daniels and Marine Sgt. Michael Avinger, 30.
According to Daniels, White eventually asked for $50,000 and Daniels refused to pay it.
“I said no,” Daniels said. “I could have paid him the money, but I didn’t rob Mr. White or stab him. I’m sorry it happened to him. But I thought it was ridiculous, you know, 50,000 in American dollars.”
Under the Japanese legal system, defendants in criminal cases traditionally offer jidan, or “I’m sorry” money, to the victims as a way of showing remorse.
Even in cases where a defendant pleads not guilty, an apology is offered to show sympathy for the pain the victim has gone through. The sincerity of the jidan carries a lot of weight in the sentencing process.
White, a former airman, claims Daniels and Avinger lured him to a remote area of Hamahiga Island on Oct. 25 on the promise of meeting women. But once there, he said, they demanded money and Avinger slit his throat while Daniels rifled through his pockets.
Daniels claims the altercation was a marijuana deal gone bad between Avinger and White and he had no intention of robbing his friend. All three had worked for a furniture company in Uruma.
Avinger claims the trio went to the island so Daniels could confront White over a rumor that Daniels possessed marijuana and he at first put a knife to White’s throat just to scare him. But when it appeared Daniels planned to cut White himself, Avinger said he ran his knife across White’s throat in order to save his life, making Daniels believe White was dead.
But the cut was too deep and White barely escaped with his life. He now bears a 7-inch scar across his throat.
In the pre-trial jidan negotiations, Daniels said, White got too greedy and turned down the offer of $2,000 and a watch.
“It was in mid-January and White’s lawyer said he said ‘no,’ Daniels said. “I guess it was not enough money.”
So Daniels then offered $5,000, the watch and letter of apology.
“He refused,” Daniels said. “So I proposed $10,000 and the letter of apology. Then Mr. White said he wanted me to pay 50,000 in American dollars.”
Avinger was not in the courtroom Thursday. The next hearing in the case is set for July 30.
Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.