Three Americans accused in Yokohama robberies appear in court
YOKOHAMA, Japan — Three Americans, including an airman assigned to Camp Zama and the civilian husband of a Yokota Air Base servicemember, were in court Thursday to deal with charges related to a series of spring robberies in the Yokohama area.
Moses Richard Emmanuel, 22, a dependent at Yokota; Airman 1st Class Johnny Christopher Warford, 22; and Mewe-Pira Oritsejolomi Oretemi Alize, 25, an English teacher living in Fujisawa City with no ties to the U.S. military, had their first hearing Thursday in Yokohama District Court. They’re charged with robbery, robbery resulting in bodily injury and attempted robbery.
Emmanuel also was indicted earlier this month. He is accused of assaulting a 34-year-old Yamato City resident in April and violating Japan’s narcotics control law in June.
Marine Maj. James Bell, a U.S. Forces Japan spokesman, said Thursday afternoon he had no details of the day’s events but the military takes servicemember misconduct allegations seriously.
“We’re committed to taking all appropriate steps to facilitate” investigating and prosecuting U.S. military community members in Japan who demonstrate “that they either will not or cannot adhere to the highest standards of personal conduct, behavior and responsibility,” he said.
“I think it’s also important to note that the overwhelming majority of the tens of thousands of U.S. personnel stationed in Japan are truly outstanding, world-class people.”
Emmanuel, Warford and Alize were led into the courtroom in handcuffs, their feet bound by a rope. Accompanied by a trio of Japanese defense lawyers, they stood with their heads down as prosecutors outlined the various charges, which were relayed by a translator.
The three were accused of five robberies or attempted thefts from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. May 13 in Yokohama and Yamato cities.
On Thursday, the Japanese prosecutor offered more than 36 pieces of evidence, including the knife law enforcement officials contend was used in one of the May 13 incidents. Emmanuel told the court a Yokota neighbor left it in his car after helping him install a new stereo system.
Dale Sonnenberg, USFJ’s deputy staff judge advocate, said Thursday the minimum sentence for injuries resulting from robbery is confinement at hard labor for at least seven years.
After Japanese court rulings, he said, U.S. servicemembers and dependents generally face no additional punishment by military officials, according to status of forces agreement guidelines.
But “the armed forces can, and regularly do, prosecute a servicemember for crimes related to the matter prosecuted in the Japanese court,” Sonnenberg added.
Emmanuel and Alize were arrested June 14. Warford, initially questioned but released, was returned to Japanese authorities on July 4.
Warford, who works for a 374th Communications Squadron detachment at Camp Zama, is being held at Kohoku Police Station. Emmanuel is detained at the Yamato Police Station. Alize also remains in Japanese custody. Their next court appearance is set for 1:10 p.m. Nov. 8.
The charges ...
Following are details of the charges, according to a Yokohama District Public Prosecutor’s Office spokesman, police and court documents, against Moses Richard Emmanuel, 22; Airman 1st Class Johnny Christopher Warford, 22; and Mewe-Pira Oritsejolomi Oretemi Alize, 25:
¶ The three are accused of using a fake gun to try to rob a 45-year-old Japanese in Yamato City on May 13 around 1:05 a.m. They failed.
¶ They punched a 34-year-old Japanese man several times, trying to steal his backpack by pointing the fake gun at him — but he also escaped.
¶ At about 2 a.m., the trio grabbed a 20- year-old Japanese from behind and pointed a knife at the victim’s face, the prosecutor said. After assaulting the individual, they stole 105,000 yen ($951) and a wallet with an ATM card, three other items and a cell phone valued at about 75,000 yen ($680), the indictment stated.
¶ At around 3 a.m., they tried to rob two women talking on the street, the prosecutor said. They’re accused of knocking down a 37-year-old woman at a Yokohama city building, then stealing her bags containing 50,000 yen ($453) and $62, the indictment states. They also tried to steal a 32-year-old woman’s bag. They’re accused of slamming her head into a glass door when she resisted, bruising her head and face.
— Stars and Stripes