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Drunk driving-related offense in Okinawa ends in Texas courtroom

What began as a drunk driving-related offense that left one man dead and another with serious injuries in Japan four years ago came to a resolution recently in a federal court in Texas when the driver of the vehicle entered a plea of guilty to involuntary manslaughter. The now 24-year-old could receive up to eight years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on Nov. 30.

The defendant, who now lives in Spring, Texas, was the dependent of an active-duty sailor and worked at Camp Foster on Okinawa in 2008. On the night of the accident, the defendant and two of his friends consumed large amounts of alcohol and cough medicine along with two other men in a hotel in Okinawa. The defendant left the hotel with a 17-year old and 18-year old who were also dependents of active-duty military members living on the base.

According to Naval Criminal Investigative Service personnel who investigated the case with Japanese police, the defendant was driving his car in excess of 60 mph, or twice the legal speed limit, when he hit another car, veered into oncoming traffic and caused a head-on collision with another car. The crash killed his 17-year-old passenger and caused the 18-year-old to sustain serious bodily injury.

The investigation continued after the defendant left Okinawa and settled in Texas. When the decision was made to file the alcohol-related offense of involuntary manslaughter for driving while intoxicated and exceeding the posted speed, the case was referred to the U.S. attorney's office for the southern district of Texas.

Source: Stars and Stripes, "Former Navy dependent pleads guilty in fatal DUI," Travis J. Tritten, Aug. 30, 2012

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