American National Convicted of Intoxication Manslaughter for Death of Friend in Japan
|Aug. 30, 2012|
HOUSTON - James Lewis Yeakey, the son of a former active duty member of the United States Navy, has entered a plea of guilty for his role in a car crash in Okinawa, Japan, which left one friend dead and another seriously injured, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer announced today. The victim died as a result of a high speed collision in Okinawa on March 23, 2008, while riding in the passenger seat of a car Yeakey was driving. Later blood alcohol testing revealed Yeakey was intoxicated at the time of the accident.
On Saturday, March 22, 2008, Yeakey, then 20, and four others purchased several bottles of alcohol, including Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels, Malibu rum and Hypnotiq to add to the bottle of Smirnoff vodka already in their possession. They also purchased Coricidin cough and cold medication with the intent of consuming it in combination with the alcohol they had purchased. Yeakey and the others then returned to their hotel room in Ginowan City, Okinawa, at approximately 7:30 p.m. and spent the evening drinking together.
At approximately midnight, Yeakey and two others discussed going for a ride. The other two men reportedly warned Yeakey and the others against driving under the influence and attempted to hide the keys to the cars. After the two who hid the keys fell asleep, Yeakey and the other two searched for and subsequently found keys to the car of one of the sleeping men. They then left the hotel.
Approximately an hour later, the car Yeakey was driving struck a Japanese vehicle from the rear while traveling above the posted speed limit. Yeakey’s vehicle then swerved into the oncoming lane of traffic and was struck on the passenger side by a Japanese truck. The collision caused the immediate death of the 16-year-old passenger seated alongside Yeakey in the front seat of the car. The collision also caused severe bodily injury to the other victim, then 18, who was in the rear passenger seat of the car.
One the morning of March 23, 2008, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) received notification of a motor-vehicle accident on the highways outside of Gate 2, Camp Foster in Okinawa. The Provost Marshal’s Office, Accident Investigation Section and Ginowan Police Department responded to scene of the accident and pronounced the victim dead at 2:41 a.m. Yeakey later acknowledged he was driving the car on the night of the accident.
Yeakey, a United States citizen present and residing with an active duty member of the military at an Armed Forces facility outside the United States at the time of the offense, was charged by this district as his last known U.S. residence was in Spring, Texas.
Yeakey faces up to eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine for this conviction at his sentencing, set for Nov. 30, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. Yeakey has been permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
The investigation leading up to the arrest was conducted by the Okinawa Police Department and NCIS. Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Elmilady and Trial Attorney Stephen Curran, of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section are prosecuting this case.