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Japanese police guard a Chatan building shrouded in blue tarp after Tech. Sgt. Curtis Eccleston was found dead there in his 4th floor apartment.
Japanese police guard a Chatan building shrouded in blue tarp after Tech. Sgt. Curtis Eccleston was found dead there in his 4th floor apartment. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A Brazilian woman will stand trial in Japanese courts for allegedly stabbing her U.S. Air Force husband to death last month at their Okinawa apartment, Japanese prosecutors announced Thursday.

Barbara Keiko Eccleston, 32, was arrested on a murder warrant Feb. 16 by Japanese police, 10 days after the body of Tech. Sgt. Curtis Eccleston was found in a pool of blood on the floor of their off-base apartment in Okinawa’s Mihama district.

Murder charges against Barbara Eccleston were forwarded from the Naha District public prosecutor’s office to the Japanese court system on Thursday. “The defendant, with intent to kill, stabbed and slashed the neck of the victim with a folding knife, causing the victim to die due to loss of blood at the site,” a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said.

In the Japanese legal system, prosecutors hold wide powers over whether cases ever come to trial and rarely forward charges to the courts without a strong case. No trial date had been set by late Thursday.

The prosecutor’s office said Barbara Eccleston conspired with another individual to plot the murder of her husband. So far, no others have been charged in Eccleston’s murder.

The Air Force has been holding an airman who has ties to the case in pretrial confinement since Feb. 13 and has said the United States will maintain jurisdiction over the servicemember, said Capt. Bryan Bouchard, a spokesman for the 18th Air Wing.

On Thursday, the airman was still being held at Camp Hansen and had not been charged with any crimes, Bouchard said.

The Air Force can confine a servicemember for up to 120 days without charges, according to the 18th Wing.

Japanese investigators said the confined airman provided information last month that led to the discovery of two knives and a backpack that were believed to have been used in the crime.

At the time of his death, Curtis Eccleston was assigned to the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron at Kadena Air Base.

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