POSTED: 7:22 p.m. HST, Apr 23, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 11:05 p.m. HST, Apr 23, 2014
A marine admitted at his court martial Wednesday at Kaneohe Bay that he killed a prostitute in his Waikiki hotel room last year and then dumped her naked body near Yokohama Bay.
Master Sgt. Nathaniel Cosby claimed that Ivanice "Ivy" Harris woke him up after 10 hours of drinking on May 16, demanded money, cut him with a knife as he tried to get her out of his room, and she died after he put her in a chokehold.
"Were you trying to squeeze her neck?" asked defense attorney Lt. Col. Clay A. Plummer.
"I was trying to submit her," answered Cosby, who weighs 180 pounds to 190 pounds and who holds a brown belt in martial arts. Cosby insisted he was trying to get Harris out of his hotel room when the fight ensured and the pair ended up on the floor. Harris was described as 5-foot 3-inches and 125 pounds.
"Did you murder Miss Harris?," Plummer asked.
"No sir, I did not," Cosby said.
But under questioning from government prosecutor Major Douglas C. Hatch, Cosby admitted that he had lied to authorities and everyone else about what happened.
Cosby, 39, is charged with unpremeditated murder, murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act, obstructing justice and attempting to patronize a prostitute.
The Marine faces the possibility of life without parole in connection with the death of Harris, 29, whose body was found May 20 in kiawe brush near Yokohama Bay on the Waianae Coast.
The self-defense claim, which surfaced on Monday during the trial at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, may have come as a surprise for the government prosecution, which built its opening arguments on a detailed series of security videos, bank statements and cellphone calls trying to show Cosby met up with Harris, took her to his hotel room, killed her and later dumped her body.
The Medical Examiner's Office had said the cause of death was injury to the neck and that the manner of death was homicide.
Videotape showed a man who appeared to be Cosby meeting Harris outside Kelley O'Neil's pub at about 3:30 a.m. May 16, and holding hands and kissing her in an Aston Waikiki elevator on the last day she was seen alive.
The prosecution's theory is that Cosby, an explosive-ordnance disposal specialist in town from Iwakuni, Japan, for a mission with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command to China, dumped Harris' body after checking in and working part of the day with JPAC at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Harris was originally from Oregon. She was visiting Hawaii to celebrate her 29th birthday with her boyfriend, who was also her pimp, and two other women.
Harris' disappearance started out as a missing person case, after one of the women who traveled to Hawaii with her reported her missing.