Military jury recommends life sentence for Marine for murdering prostitute

Nathaniel Cosby
Nathaniel Cosby
Ivanice "Ivy" Harris
Ivanice "Ivy" Harris

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - A military jury has recommended a life sentence for a U.S. Marine who was convicted in the death of Ivanice "Ivy" Harris of Oregon.

Defense Attorney Earle Partington says it is a harsh sentence that fits the crime.

"It seems appropriate where a life has been taken," said Partington.

The recommendation came in the sentencing phase of the general court-martial of Master Sgt. Nathaniel Cosby at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe. On Thursday, the jury found Cosby guilty of murder in Harris' death. Harris was a prostitute based in Las Vegas.

Cosby had been accused of killing Harris last May, and then dumping her body near Yokohama Bay. He told police he picked up Harris and spent the night with her at his Waikiki hotel. Surveillance video obtained after her death showed the pair entering an elevator together. When Cosby next appeared on camera, he was struggling to drag a heavy bag to his car.

Cosby admitted to killing Harris but said he was acting in self-defense when she attacked him with a small knife.

Partington says it's no wonder the military jury didn't buy his alibi.

"If you look at the picture, he's a pretty stocky Marine.  I think people would have a hard time believing he had to kill this woman to defend himself," Partington said.

This conviction automatically carries a reduction to E-1 and forfeiture of all pay and allowances, a military spokesman said. The jury also recommended that Cosby receive a dishonorable discharge.

"Justice was achieved because of the continued cooperation of investigative and prosecutorial agencies of government and we were proud to be part of this effort," said city prosecuting attorney Keith Kaneshiro, the Prosecuting Attorney of the City and County of Honolulu. "We applaud the work of NCIS and Marine Corps prosecutors and congratulate them on the outcome."

The recommended sentence will be reviewed by Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, the Commander of U.S. Marine Forces Pacific and the court-martial's convening authority. Robling will either concur with the sentence or reduce the penalty.  He has to make a decision within 120 days from the recommended sentencing.

The military said Cosby remains in confinement at the Joint Brig Miramar - Detachment Pearl Harbor Brig on Ford Island.

"I am pleased that the court-martial process worked and reached a just verdict," said Robling.  "At the same time, we should not forget the young lady who was the victim in this case and take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathy to Ms. Ivy Harris' family and friends.  This is obviously an unfortunate and very sad occasion for all concerned - the loss of a young life and the career of a U.S. Marine."

In a written statement, the Harris family said, "We are the voices for the voiceless and are eternally grateful to the Marines, NCIS and Hawaii law enforcement for bringing Ivanice's murderer to justice.  We've had peace throughout this process knowing that somebody had our baby's back.  Ivanice was a gift to the world and is survived by a very close-knit, loving family who will continue to live on because that is what she would have wanted."

The earliest the Marine will even be eligible for consideration of parole is after serving ten years in military prison.

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