Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Marine Kenneth Franklin Shinzato on Thursday said he attacked and tried to rape a 20-year-old Japanese woman in Okinawa prefecture but did not intend to kill her.
He made the admission on the first day of his murder and rape trial in Naha District Court.
Shinzato said he planned to knock out Rina Shimabukuro, 20, on April 28, 2016, with a stick and then rape her after he saw her walking in Uruma. He said he panicked when she didn't completely lose consciousness so he took her to a nearby grass field. She was found strangled and stabbed several times, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Shimabukuro's death was premeditated, though, because Shinzato took with him a large suitcase to dispose of her body. After her death, he allegedly put her in the suitcase, took it to a forest in Onna and covered it in dirt.
Shinzato gave police the location of her body in May 2016, some three weeks after she went missing.
"We are not going to dispute the accusation that Shinzato struck and strangled her, but he did not have the intention to kill the victim," Shinzato's lawyer said. "He did not stab her with a knife at the scene."
Shinzato, who was born Kenneth Franklin Gadson, was assigned to U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa from 2007-14. At the time of Shimabukuro's death, he was working at the base as a civilian in information technology.