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U.S. sergeant gets 32-months prison time for hit-and-run

Date Posted: 2010-10-17

Army Staff Sergeant Clyde Gunn is heading to a Japanese prison after being convicted of a hit-and-run fatality late last year.

Presiding Judge Nobuhiro Takamori found the 28-year-old soldier assigned to Torii Communication Station guilty of hitting and killing Masakazu Hokama about 5:50 a.m. last November 7th. Hokama had been walking along a village street in Yomitan when he was struck by the American driver. The 66-year-old Hokama died of a broken neck and other injuries.

Takamori, on the bench of the Naha District Court, sentenced Gunn to 32 months in prison for the conviction. The Naha District Prosecutorís Office had sought a lengthy sentence, arguing Gunn was not repentant over his actions. Gunnís attorney had contended the young soldier could not have reasonably anticipated that anyone would be taking a walk in the dark on the unlit street.

Gunnís refusal to cooperate in additional questioning by Okinawa Prefectural Police after submitting to questioning three times was described as a factor in the conviction. Police sent the case to prosecutors after the questioning, and prosecutors indicted Gunn on charges of hit-and-run resulting in the death of the Okinawan man. Once indicted, Gunn was transferred from U.S. to Japanese custody in accordance with provisions of the U.S.~Japan Status of Forces Agreement.

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