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Navy officer who was jailed in Japan over deadly crash released from U.S. custody, family says

44 Comments
By Eric Tucker

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44 Comments
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Surprising no one.

16 ( +25 / -9 )

He was jailed for more than the sentencing guideline in the US. If the Japanese wanted more detention, they should have kept him.

-7 ( +16 / -23 )

It's good to have friends in high places..

12 ( +21 / -9 )

I think he has already served enough time.

But has he, or his parents apologized to the surviving families of the two victims who died as a result of this accident? It would probably help in cae they are planning to file a civil action against him.

4 ( +21 / -17 )

The Japanese prosecutor assigned to this case had a prior acquaintance with the victims.

The doctors who supported Arkonis' innocence were dismissed, and scientific evidence was overlooked.

Arkonis should take necessary legal action to protect his rights and clear his name.

-20 ( +11 / -31 )

Glad I won't have to hear about this any more. It is frankly embarrassing as an American.

16 ( +25 / -9 )

I'm sure the Japanese government expected this and isn't at all surprised by it. But I hate to think what concessions we (DoS, DoD, USFJ, etc.) made to get the GoJ to transfer Alkonis to U.S. custody and allow him to return to the U.S. Whatever it was, I hope we don't see or hear about Alkonis ever again and that his family has the sense to shut up and let this case fade from the public's memory.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

It’s a privilege to be an American. You can get away with killing two people by serving less than half of the prison term you were sentenced to. A person of any other nationality, if convicted in the US for the same crime, would have served a full sentence.

4 ( +19 / -15 )

It sounds like it’s not a serious crime for a US military personnel to kill one or more Japanese in US law. There have been other cases like fishermen boat sinking that uS ship personnel who hit the fishermen boat just watched Japanese to drawn, without any attempt to help.

6 ( +20 / -14 )

Hopefully they have banned him from driving too. Horrible act killing two innocent people because of your actions. I guess some deals were done to let him have such a light sentence.

6 ( +14 / -8 )

But though U.S. sentencing guidelines recommended that a sentence of 10 to 16 months be served if Alkonis had been convicted of the same crime in the U.S., the Parole Commission also determined that the amount of time he had already been jailed would have exceeded the applicable guideline range.

This seems a expected thing to happen the moment the accused returned to America, even without taking into account the many different problems with his sentence in Japan there would be no realistic way he would not be released.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Title should say US Navy officer to make things clear. Especially because this is JAPAN TODAY.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Reading the family statement i got the feeling that this guy was a victim ny the 2 people who killed,

no ward of apology to the grieving family of the 2 victims who lost their life shows how arrogant they are.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

But has he, or his parents apologized to the surviving families of the two victims who died as a result of this accident? It would probably help in case they are planning to file a civil action against him.

I'm a little puzzled as to what exactly his family have to do with this accident as they were not in the car or even in Japan. There is no need for them to apologise to or communicate with anybody regarding this. Well, at least back in the USA and free, he is not a hostage of Japan's legal system.

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

Alan HarrisonToday  09:35 pm JST

But has he, or his parents apologized to the surviving families of the two victims who died as a result of this accident? It would probably help in case they are planning to file a civil action against him.

I'm a little puzzled as to what exactly his family have to do with this accident as they were not in the car or even in Japan. 

By your very own argument what does the sentence or punishment for their son's crime have to do with his parents? They were not in the car or even in Japan.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

What was he sentenced to in Japan? Was it a lot longer than 18 months?, if it was a lot longer than 18 months, and letting this guy out of a us jail, I wonder if this act has annoyed the Japanese?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese court found that he fell asleep. Sentenced him to 3 yrs.

US believes he had a medical impairment that lead to the accident. This is "involuntary manslaughter" in the US code, which has a 12-18 month guideline for prison time.

He was locked up 537 days, that's about 1.47 yrs, according to the article above. Other reputable reports say he was locked up 2.5 yrs.

Alkonis spent 2.5 years incarcerated on charges of negligent driving, a claim refuted by medical records indicating he was suffering from a medical condition during a fatal car crash.

No amount of time in jail will bring back the people who were killed through this accident. There's nothing Alkonis can do to bring them back or make it right. There's no way his guilt for the accident can be lessened either. It will be with him the rest of his life.

Perhaps it is my bias to believe US military officers, but I believe he had a medical incident and that the Japanese court ruling was wrong. Of course, I'd believe it more if his driving license was highly restricted or taken away completely. There are restricted licenses that allow driving a vehicle only in specific places and times. I couldn't find this in any articles.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

@OssanAmerica., What is puzzling me is, how would an apology from his family help in a civil case against him?

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

So now that he has discovered he suffers from a rare medical condition that hits when ascending mountains, let's hope he will refrain from making anymore high-altitude trips!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I hope there is such a thing as Karma for those who got off lightly for killing 2 innocent people.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

if he had been a civilian and this happened in the USA, he would have faced a sentence of at least 5-7 years.

The attitude of his family is disgusting; the absence of any form of apology is utterly appalling.

1 ( +11 / -10 )

Coming from a place where prison is seen more as a way of rehabilitation than punishment and revenge, I don't really get the point of prison for an accidental killing like this. Nothing will change for anyone, if anything why not have him work during that time and make him support what ever family the victims left behind? Putting someone like this in jail only costs money when there is no safety threat or anything to really rehabilitate.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Alkonis was duly tried and convicted in Japan, and mostly friends in high places ...Senator Mike Lee...pressured his return to the U.S. I'm glad the U.S. Bureau of Prisons kept him behind bars for a little bit of time before bowing to political pressure.

But Alkonis is still a killer of people.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

"" involuntary manslaughter.""

537 day in prison, did almost half the time, i suppose he could be released based on the fact it was purely an accident . I pray for the victims and their families on both sides. this was a tragic event.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

DanielsanToday 01:06 am JST

if he had been a civilian and this happened in the USA, he would have faced a sentence of at least 5-7 years.

They tell you in the article that involuntary manslaughter is 10-16 months in the US.

The attitude of his family is disgusting; the absence of any form of apology is utterly appalling.

That's great but has no bearing. They probably know a disgusting lawsuit is coming and don't want to give the victims any more satisfaction than impoverishing their son.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

MeiyouwentiJan. 13 06:52 pm JST

It’s a privilege to be an American. You can get away with killing two people by serving less than half of the prison term you were sentenced to. A person of any other nationality, if convicted in the US for the same crime, would have served a full sentence.

He served the full sentence for involuntary manslaughter. Get out of here with that racism nonsense.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

It’s a privilege to be an American.

How so?

You can get away with killing two people by serving less than half of the prison term you were sentenced to.

So what you are essentially saying is, as an American, I can kill as many people as I wish and I won't have to serve jail time or that I might be released early? Now are you factually and undeniably sure about this and can you back that up? Or are you just painting a broad brush and stepping a bit ahead of yourself with that comment?

A person of any other nationality, if convicted in the US for the same crime, would have served a full sentence.

Now does it make a difference whether you are a White or Black American or any other minority, every single American will be treated the same, right?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I said it before and I’ll say it again. The privilege is real.

Same goes for those guys who helped Ghosn get out of the country. They knew they would do some time. However, it won’t even hurt their employment opportunities once they return.

No doubt that this naval officer, from Dana Point, California, will get a military contract job after the smoke clears. No one in the U.S will ever remember this guys story. As far as the job market is concerned, it never happened on U.S soil, so it doesn’t exist.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Redtail SwiftToday 04:32 am JST

I said it before and I’ll say it again. The privilege is real.

Same goes for those guys who helped Ghosn get out of the country. They knew they would do some time. However, it won’t even hurt their employment opportunities once they return.

No doubt that this naval officer, from Dana Point, California, will get a military contract job after the smoke clears. No one in the U.S will ever remember this guys story. As far as the job market is concerned, it never happened on U.S soil, so it doesn’t exist.

Why should previous convictions impact employment? If someone paid their debt to society, they paid their debt to society. Since I imagine you want all of his money to go to the victims, you should want him to get a good job.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Glad I won't have to hear about this any more. It is frankly embarrassing as an American.

Why? The Japanese legal system denied him his basic legal right to have an attorney present during questioning. Their standard tactic is to hold someone three weeks with no access to any attorney and question them harshly for 11-12 hours a day without breaks. Any person will "confess" under such duress. To add insult to injury he was denied the testimony of expert supporting witnesses. The Japanese judges don't want any evidence presented in their courtrooms that might contradict their prosecutors.

It is the Japanese who should be deeply ashamed of the thoroughly detestable "criminal justice" system they operate, from the investigators all the way up to the judges. It is corrupt to the core aimed only at getting convictions at any price and in no way seeks the truth or actual justice.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

No doubt that this naval officer, from Dana Point, California, will get a military contract job after the smoke clears. No one in the U.S will ever remember this guys story. 

Probably not. The article does not state explicitly what kind of discharge he received but it is fair to assume that if he was put into a Federal prison he received a Bad Conduct Discharge and that is the equivalent of a felony conviction. Unless he can find a court willing to vacate his conviction and attorneys willing to sue the Navy to change his discharge to general or honorable, he will never work in any occupation that requires any kind of clearance or background investigation. He would not even be able to get a job driving a truck into the port of Los Angeles or working around any kind of hazardous materials as even those drivers have to pass a criminal background check to get the license endorsements needed for that kind of work.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The attitude of his family is disgusting; the absence of any form of apology is utterly appalling.

I fail to see what is disgusting about the attitude of this man's family. They are happy that their son has completed his sentence and is home (as any parents would be).

That's great but has no bearing. They probably know a disgusting lawsuit is coming and don't want to give the victims any more satisfaction than impoverishing their son.

His parents should discuss the matter with no one. Japanese like to pull out their tape recorders when seeking compensation damages.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

What is conveniently left out, most certainly to encourage clicks through controversy. What gets more clicks than an American in the title? Right JT?

The question is, how are Japanese treated for the same type of offense? Is the sentencing and release guidelines applied equally?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Desert Tortoise

Glad I won't have to hear about this any more. It is frankly embarrassing as an American.

Why? The Japanese legal system denied him his basic legal right to have an attorney present during questioning. Their standard tactic is to hold someone three weeks with no access to any attorney and question them harshly for 11-12 hours a day without breaks. 

The problem with this is you offer no evidence to support your hyperbole. Without support, you only feed the flames of extreme arguments. Unless you can offer anything to the contrary, this is what is posted on the US Embassy web site.

Under Japanese law, you may be arrested and detained without bail for 48 hours by the police on suspicion of having committed a crime. During this period, the police are required to inform you of the crime of which you are suspected, of your right to remain silent, of your right to hire a lawyer at your own expense, of your right to request a court-appointed lawyer, and of your right to have the Embassy or the Consulate notified of your arrest.

Add to this, the guy was i the military and has a family - You don't have to like the system, but he had access to qualified representation. Your cut and paste rhetoric brings nothing to the debate as to whether or not foreigners are afforded the same treatment as Japanese when applying the rule of law.

Unfortunately, neither did this article.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Japanese prosecutor assigned to this case had a prior acquaintance with the victims.

A particularly irrelevant complaint. Suppose the family did use their influence - all that means is that the family clearly hasn't reconciled with the defendant, and thus there is no reason to drop the prosecution.

The doctors who supported Arkonis' innocence were dismissed, and scientific evidence was overlooked.

They were supporting an implausible and low probability conclusion - Alkonis fainting to airliner air, without warning (the latter being negated by him admitting he noticed he was swerving a few minutes before the final crash). Ultimately, also you don't know how they performed - you shouldn't just assume they made a presentation as convincing as you wish they did.

But I hate to think what concessions we (DoS, DoD, USFJ, etc.) made to get the GoJ to transfer Alkonis to U.S. custody and allow him to return to the U.S.

I sure hope behind the doors some concessions were made.

I'm a little puzzled as to what exactly his family have to do with this accident as they were not in the car or even in Japan.

At the time of the involuntary manslaughter (as the US authority put it), they were all in the car with him. They could have suggested at the first swerve they pull over.

By your very own argument what does the sentence or punishment for their son's crime have to do with his parents? They were not in the car or even in Japan.

I don't think it's uncommon for Japanese to believe that parents should act at least somewhat responsible when their sons really foul it up. Parents are responsible for much of any child's "programming".

So now that he has discovered he suffers from a rare medical condition that hits when ascending mountains, let's hope he will refrain from making anymore high-altitude trips!

I better see him living up to his story. No more mountains or planes for him, now that we know he's a "rare breed" that faints in airliner air.

Coming from a place where prison is seen more as a way of rehabilitation than punishment and revenge, I don't really get the point of prison for an accidental killing like this.

Well, maybe Alkonis will learn to pull over when he feels the first swerve. Or he'd learn to get better rested. Or it'd be pounded into him he really must avoid not only mountains, but also planes or at least doing anything significant after riding one (since he insists he just fainted to airliner air). There are actions he can take to avoid a repeat of this incident.

I'm glad the U.S. Bureau of Prisons kept him behind bars for a little bit of time before bowing to political pressure.

Well, TBF, at least they made it sound like it could be for legally sound reasons.

The Japanese legal system denied him his basic legal right to have an attorney present during questioning.

A fate no different from any Japanese. The Japanese people decided that the attorney blocks the ability to properly interrogate the suspect, and that does have a cost. Such as prosecutors relying on threats of manifestly excessive charges to get plea bargains, or inferring intent on weak inferences.

Their standard tactic is to hold someone three weeks with no access to any attorney and question them harshly for 11-12 hours a day without breaks.

They are allowed "access to attorneys" in between the interrogation sessions, which are now 8 hours long.

To add insult to injury he was denied the testimony of expert supporting witnesses.

The witnesses are Americans, for one thing. For another thing, they are pushing something implausible. Third, you don't know whether they even performed all that well.

The article does not state explicitly what kind of discharge he received but it is fair to assume that if he was put into a Federal prison he received a Bad Conduct Discharge and that is the equivalent of a felony conviction.

I should hope so, considering he did kill two people and tried to get away with an implausible excuse.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Never should have been held in Japan or the US anyway.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

US believes he had a medical impairment that lead to the accident.............Then why was he allowed to drive?? I presume he still has that impairment and whats the betting he will be driving his own car around soon.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

if he had been a civilian and this happened in the USA, he would have faced a sentence of at least 5-7 years.

The sentencing guidelines for exactly this crime in the US are 12-18 months.

According to the articles, he didn't know he has this issue until after the accident in Japan. There are specific situations where it happens, so his license needs to be restricted to prevent that. Military officers don't try to endanger others unless it is part of their mission, so I'm 100% positive he will never drive under a similar situation again, for the rest of his life. He has no desire to harm himself or anyone else while driving.

He accidentally killed two people. Jail time was definitely required, regardless of the reason why.

That isn't being debated. There's a difference in jail duration sentencing ranges between Japan and the US. When Japan released him to the US, the different legal system got involved, reviewed his sentence and determined it was excessive. He was released from prison. I didn't see if he was placed under "house arrest" - with a GPS tracker to ensure he stays home. This is common in the US for non-criminal offenders with little risk of violating the terms.

In Japan, he was sentenced to 3 yrs. One article says he was jailed 2.5 yrs in total, above the US upper limit for this offense. Does that really make you so very unhappy?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Then why was he allowed to drive??

TBF, one reason for this is the shoddy (as a generalization) American public transit system and societal infrastructure that's overly slanted towards the use of cars, making his ability to drive one a necessity for normal everyday life.

I do want to see him being put on a No Fly List though - clearly it is hazardous for his health if he faints to airliner air.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Alan HarrisonJan. 13  11:27 pm JST

@OssanAmerica., What is puzzling me is, how would an apology from his family help in a civil case against him?

You obviously have zero experience with civil cases in Japan, where an expression of remorse can change everything from the plaintiffs position to a judgement or sentence. Why do you think public apologies are so common in Japan?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Are they some kind of psychotic or something holding a picture of their son who killed two people and looking like a victim?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

TokyoLivingToday 05:12 am JST

If the killer was black or Latin the history would different..

You have to come from a country with visible minorities to comment on race issues.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@TaiwanisNotChina

You have never lived in America. If you are convicted of a crime in America, you lose everything. PERIOD. Not this guy! He'll get a great job.

Meanwhile....Jonathon Majors lost millions! You do not understand the "privledge". I'm giving you REAL talk.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

An insult to the Japanese families that lost loved ones.

This individual was no doubt irresponsible and dishonest.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

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