TOKYO — Two U.S. Navy sailors were convicted and sentenced to prison on Friday for raping and robbing a woman on Okinawa in a crime that outraged many on the southern Japanese island.
Seaman Christopher Browning, of Athens, Texas, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, were found guilty by the Naha District Court of raping and robbing a woman in her 20s in a parking lot in October. Both admitted committing the crime.
Browning, 24, was sentenced to 10 years and Dozierwalker, 23, received nine years.
The case outraged many Okinawans, who have long complained of military-related crime on their island, which hosts thousands of U.S. troops. It also sparked tougher restrictions for all 50,000 U.S. military personnel in Japan, including a curfew and drinking restrictions.
Prosecutors had sought up to 12 years in prison for Browning, who they said also robbed the woman after the rape. Both men admitted their guilt, but the defense had argued that such a long sentence would be excessive.
Tensions between U.S. troops and Okinawans are endemic because of islanders’ complaints of noise, the danger of accidents and crimes committed by servicemen. The rape in October came amid large protests over the U.S. military’s decision to base a new kind of aircraft at an Okinawan Marine facility.
Although most crimes committed by U.S. military personnel in Japan are handled by military courts, they can be prosecuted in Japanese courts in cases that occur off base and are deemed to be particularly serious, such as murder and rape.
The sailors were temporarily deployed to Japan with their unit, the VR-59 reserve air detachment based at Joint Naval Air Station, Fort Worth, Texas. According to police, they arrived in Okinawa two days before the crime on a brief stopover and were staying in an off-base hotel. They were reportedly drinking before the rape took place.
They will serve their sentences in a Japanese prison.
Browning to serve 10 years for rape
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McDonald’s coming to Mabank
The corner of North First Street and North Third Street in Mabank is about to look a lot different as a construction crew broke ground Monday.
A formal ceremonial groundbreaking will be held within the next week to welcome McDonald's to the location just off of Highway 175.
Funeral held for 15-year-old drowned Eustace student
Funeral services were held on Sunday for a 15-year-old Eustace student who drowned Thursday evening after diving into Cedar Creek Lake.
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the drowning. According to reports, a medical emergency call came to 9-1-1 shortly after 5 p.m. from Timber Bay in the Payne Springs area.
PSCA seeks new student enrollment
“Striving to make a difference in each child for eternity,” reads the motto of one local private school seeking new enrollment.
Payne Springs Christian Academy is looking to enroll new students for the 2014-2015 school year.
“We are in need of some kids this year,” said Amanda Beets, a mother of one of the school's current students.
Lightfoot-Miller Cemetery to dedicate historical marker
The Texas Historical Commission, Henderson County Historical Commission and descendants of those who are buried in the Lightfoot-Miller Cemetery invite the public to the dedication of a historical marker at the property.
The observance is set for 10 a.m. on Aug. 2.
‘Party for the Paws’ event great success
The Henderson County Humane Society in Athens as well as Beckham are continuing to celebrate results of the Party For The Paws fundraiser. Beckham is a dog that was recently adopted from the HCHS.
HCHS Treasurer Ellen Barton commends those who were involved in the event’s planning and execution.
Volunteers now needed for Athens Soup Kitchen
Athens resident Terry Mayhall walked through the doors of the Athens Soup Kitchen asking if he could just volunteer. Mayhall now spends his Thursdays cooking soup for people who are hungry.
Athens Soup Kitchen, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The mission is to feed those who are hungry. The facility that feeds 30 to 63 people weekly, opened its door in March 2014.
Coston named chamber president
After a diligent search, the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board has named Mike Coston president.
“The chamber board selected a search committee, which consisted of Chamber members, community leaders and business owners,” Ashley Adams McKee, Chairman of the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board, said. “Our committee knew that we wanted to take our time to find the most qualified person to serve as our new president. We had more than 10 applicants and in our first round of interviews we were all equally impressed and excited about Mike's experience and passion for chamber business.”
Update on restaurant projects given
City of Athens officials gave an update on some ongoing projects and financial information at a meeting on Wednesday.
Director of Planning and Development Gary Crecilius said progress on the Cotton Patch Cafe has slowed considerably with the discovery of a possible environmental hazard. The restaurant is being constructed east of the Walmart store on East Tyler Street.
HCPAC announces ‘Mattress’ sales
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The 26th Annual Youth Summer Musical stars 24 very talented area students, ages 10 through college, and tells the “fractured fairy tale” version of the “Princess and the Pea.”
Gearing up for Celebrity Waiter event
The Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake is gearing up for its annual Celebrity Waiter event. The Celebrity Waiter committee met on Thursday to discuss last minute items. The event is scheduled for Saturday, August 9 at Athens Country Club. This will be the 18th year the CCL Rotary Club has hosted the fundraiser. For ticket information call Erin Osborn at 903-887-7486.
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