• Kyodo

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A U.S. civilian base worker indicted for raping and slaying a 20-year-old woman in Okinawa will deny murderous intent at his trial, his defense has said.

But Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 33, will admit to charges of rape resulting in death and to abandoning the victim’s body, the defense said Friday.

The Naha District Court, prosecutors and his defense have agreed to hold the first pretrial conference on March 10, according to the defense for Shinzato, a former U.S. Marine.

Shinzato will likely be tried under a lay judge system with three professional and six lay judges.

According to the indictment, Shinzato is suspected of assaulting the woman on a road in Uruma, in central Okinawa Prefecture, on the night of April 28 last year, for the purpose of raping her. After hitting her on the head with a bar, he stabbed her in the neck with a knife so she would not resist, murdering her as a result.

Last July, Shinzato told the U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes that he “did not have the intention of killing the victim.”

According to investigative sources, Shinzato initially hinted during police questioning at murdering the victim, saying he stabbed her with a knife, before remaining silent.

The case sparked public anger in Okinawa, home to the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan.

Shinzato requested his trial be held outside Okinawa, saying it is unlikely a fair trial can be held there due to the strong anti-U.S. base sentiment.

Following the incident, Tokyo and Washington signed a pact to remove some U.S. military base workers, classified as the “civil component,” from special legal protections granted to base personnel under the bilateral status of forces agreement.

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