YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) A U.S. sailor pleaded guilty Friday to murdering a woman in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in January, during the opening session of his Yokohama District Court trial.

Prosecutors indicted William Reese, 21, a crewman off the Yokosuka-deployed aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, of fatally beating temp worker Yoshie Sato, 56, a stranger to him, in the city at around 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 3 during a mugging.

Prosecutors said as Reese tried unsuccessfully on a sidewalk to grab Sato’s bag, he took her into a nearby building and beat her for 10 minutes.

They accused Reese of stealing 15,000 yen from Sato and fleeing the scene. Japanese police arrested him four days later.

Prosecutors said earlier Reese told investigators he wanted money for drinks.

Reese’s lawyer said Friday the defendant did not have a firm intent to kill but would not deny that the sailor was aware his actions could result in death.

The U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement does not require the U.S. forces to hand over suspects before indictment, but the U.S. agreed to consider preindictment handovers in serious criminal cases in 1995.

Reese’s case marks the first preindictment handover in a murder case.

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