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NAHA, Okinawa — Two Americans will stand trial in a Japanese court on charges they knifed and robbed another American on Oct. 25.

Sgt. Michael L. Avinger, 30, assigned to Camp Schwab, and Darian Preston Daniels, 29, the husband of a sailor, are charged with robbery involving a bodily injury. A trial date has not been set.

According to an indictment filed Thursday, the two conspired to rob Bryant White, 22, by luring him to Hamahiga Island and slashing his throat with a knife.

They then took White’s wallet, containing about 1,000 yen and $100 cash; his passport; a cellular phone; a wristwatch; and other items, the indictment read.

Then they threw him in bushes and left him for dead, White claims. “They tried to kill me,” White said as he sat in the small bar he co-owns in Okinawa city. Just below his chin, a seven-inch scar mars his neck.

“Luckily it wasn’t deep enough or they would have succeeded,” he said. “It took 15 stitches to close the wound.”

White, a former airman from Atlanta, married a Japanese woman. He said he stayed on Okinawa after his administrative discharge in 2004 for driving while intoxicated and for minor offenses. Since then, he’s been involved with several businesses including a small moving company. That’s where he said he met Daniels and Avinger.

The bar owner said he occasionally went out drinking with the two and wasn’t concerned when they asked him to come out with them on the night he was wounded.

White said he and Daniels followed Avinger’s car from Okinawa City to a remote section of Hamahiga Island, where they stopped and got out of their cars. It was about 10:25 p.m.

While Daniels spoke to White, Avinger grabbed him from behind and held a knife to his throat, White said. “Darian stood in front of me and asked where my money was,” White said. “I asked him, ‘What money?’ and he said, ‘The money your wife threw at you the other day.’

” Daniels had been with him when White’s wife got angry and threw him out of their home, throwing a wad of money at him as he left. White told Daniels he had left the money — some $2,000 — at home.

“That’s when Mike cut me and threw me to the ground,” White said. “They went through my pockets and took everything … fortunately they missed the back pocket where I had my money wadded up.”

White said he played dead as blood from his slashed throat soaked his shirt. “When they were done going through my pockets, they dragged me toward some bushes and Darian said, ‘He’s dead, he’s done.’ Then they grabbed my arms and legs and on the count of three threw me into some bushes,” White said.

After Daniels and Avinger left, White said, he stumbled to a nearby home and asked for help.

He spent five days in Chubu Hospital in Uruma.

Daniels turned himself in to the Uruma police station around noon the next day and has been in police custody ever since. Avinger, of the 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion, was apprehended by military police the same day. He was turned over to Japanese authorities Thursday.

“American and Japanese law enforcement authorities have been working side by side since the very beginning of this case,” said 2nd Lt. Brian Block, a Marine spokesman. “Less than a day after the crime was reported to the Uruma city police, NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) had Sgt. Avinger in custody.

“American law enforcement gathered evidence and interviewed Sgt. Avinger alongside their Uruma city police counterparts,” Block said.

Defense attorneys were unavailable for comment.

White said he now lives in fear.

“They left me there to die,” White said. “I’m afraid their friends may come after me.” He said that’s why he refused to be photographed but added that the precaution might not help.

“I’m trying to do this bar thing, so everyone knows where I’m at,” White said. As he spoke, he paused to clear his throat.

“It still really hurts,” he said. “I still can’t eat right and it hurts when I talk — even when I yawn.” He looked around at the small four-table bar he was in the process of refurbishing. A new sign that read “Tree of Life” lay on one of the tables.

“That’s what I decided to call this place,” White said. “I’m just glad to be alive.”


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