Military hearing for Marine accused of Hawaii tourist death - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Military hearing for Marine accused of Hawaii tourist death

Master Sergeant Nathaniel Cosby Master Sergeant Nathaniel Cosby

The U.S. Marine charged with killing a visiting escort will appear in a military courtroom on Wednesday. Since it's not a civilian case, different rules could change the outcome, according to legal experts.

The charges against Master Sergeant Nathaniel Cosby include unpremeditated murder, voluntary manslaughter and obstructing justice. The Article 32 hearing at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe will determine if he'll face a court martial. It's the equivalent of a preliminary hearing in civilian courts, but the proceedings offer more details.

"You have a vast opportunity to find out what evidence the prosecutor has and you can call witnesses if you choose to. You can cross examine their witnesses. You receive all the documents," explained Honolulu defense attorney Eric Seitz, who has represented military members in court-martial cases.

Ivanice "Ivy" Harris, 28, traveled to Hawaii from Oregon in May. She was last seen alive outside a Waikiki bar. Her nude body was found days later near Yokohama Bay. Harris worked as an escort and sources said surveillance video from a Waikiki hotel showed her with Cosby. The military eventually took over the investigation.

"There's a very, very heavy rate of convictions in military cases and it's very difficult to win at a court martial level," said Seitz.

"I think the likelihood of being found guilty is pretty much the same between a military or civilian court. It's the sentence where it varies dramatically," said military defense attorney Earle Partington.

According to sources, Cosby told authorities he spent the night with Harris but didn't kill her. A source said security video showed him struggling with a large piece of luggage the next morning.

"It will be extremely interesting to see what the prosecution actually has to tie him. If it's only the surveillance video, it really will allow the defense to have every option available," said military defense attorney Christopher Cazares.

If there is enough evidence for a court-martial, Cosby can choose to have a judge or a military jury of at least 5 members decide his fate. Only two-thirds of the jurors need to vote for a conviction, but they could hand down a lighter sentence than in a civilian case.

"We've seen murder cases where the sentences have been next to nothing depending upon the facts of the particular case and the disposition of the jurors," Seitz said.

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