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U.S. soldier arrested, charged in Yomitan hit-and-run death

Date Posted: 2010-01-14

A 27-year-old soldier has been formally arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter in the November 7th hit-and-run death of a man on a Yomitan street.

Staff Sergeant Clyde A. Gunn was formally charged by the Naha District Prosecutor and turned over to Japanese authorities by the U.S. Army. Gunn had been confined to Torii Station under U.S. Army supervision since the November incident. He’s accused of killing 66-year-old Masakazu Hokama while driving “inattentively” on a Yomitan city street. The incident happened about 5:50 a.m., but Hokama’s body wasn’t found until about 12 hours later.

Gunn’s defense attorney, Toshimitsu Takaesu, says Gunn didn’t think he hit anyone, but still wanted to apologize for Hokama’s death. The soldier was questioned on three occasions by Japanese police in the early days after the incident. Based on advice from Takaesu, Gunn refused further interviews with Japanese police because his attorney was not permitted to be present. Gunn, says Takaesu, will continue to refuse interrogation until the sessions are recorded on video and audio tape.

Hokama died of a broken neck, the police indictment says. The Japanese man also suffered head injuries when he struck the hood and windshield of Gunn’s car, according to the police.

Takaesu has demanded Gunn be freed on bail, and the U.S. Army has assured the Naha District Prosecutor’s Office it would be responsible for the soldier if such a bail decision was approved. Japanese law, however, prohibits accused persons from being released on bail unless the prosecutors agree to such and arrangement.

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