Opening statements in the general court-martial of Master Sgt. Nathaniel Cosby took an unexpected turn Monday when a member of his defense team admitted the Marine killed Ivanice "Ivy" Harris last year and then dumped her body near Yokohama Bay.
Click here to see Andrew Pereira's report.
Police say Harris, 29, was working as a prostitute in the early morning hours of May 16 when she met Cosby, 39, at Kelley O'Neil's in Waikiki. But after military prosecutors laid out their case to a jury of seven men and one woman, defense attorney Lt. Col. Clay Plummer claimed Cosby feared for his life after Harris slashed his client on his arm and temple with a "lipstick" knife.
"This was a struggle from moment one, and at the end, they're both on the floor," said Plummer.
Cosby's defense attorney said the court-martial is no longer about who killed Harris, but why? According to Plummer, Cosby and Harris were in the Marine's hotel room at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel when she woke him up from a drunken stupor and asked for money. As Cosby attempted to usher Harris out of his room, Plummer said she attacked.
"He notices she has a little lipstick knife (and) she cuts him right here, slashes him across his arm," said Plummer.
After allegedly being slashed again, this time in the temple, Plummer said Cosby attempted to remove the knife from Harris' hand, and wound up on top of her. A short time later, Cosby noticed Harris stopped moving, and he could tell from her eyes that she was dead.
"At some point there's no longer any movement," said Plummer. "He knew at that moment in time that she was gone... he's seen it in Iraq."
However, military prosecutors believe Cosby is indeed a killer, and is once again trying to cover his tracks, much in the same way that he dumped Harris' body.
"People that commit crimes always leave clues, it's just up to a good detective to follow the trail," said military lawyer Jesse Schweig in opening statements for the prosecution.
There's no shortage of circumstantial evidence against Cosby. Surveillance video from an elevator at the Aston Waikiki shows him holding hands with Harris and kissing her after the two had left Kelly O'Neil's. A few hours later, Cosby is again seen on video, this time dragging a large duffle bag out of the hotel. Meanwhile, two pings from a cellphone tower place Cosby in Waianae near Yokohama Bay on the morning Harris is believed to have been killed.
Harris' parents, Marion Ivan Greer Jr. and Patricia Harris, are attending Cosby's court-martial.
Cosby is charged with unpremeditated murder, murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act, obstructing justice and attempting to patronize a prostitute. If convicted on the most serious charge, he could receive a sentence of life in prison without parole. The eight jurors being asked to decide the case includes four officers and four enlisted persons.
Cosby was on Oahu last year on five-day duty from Iwakuni, Japan. Harris is originally from Oregon, but was visiting Oahu from Las Vegas with her boyfriend Mark Miles Jr., who police say acted as her pimp.
In January, Miles and nine other men were indicted on charges of transporting women across state lines to engage in prostitution. Fox 12 in Oregon reported Miles is accused of violating the Mann Act and the Travel Act by taking women to Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada, Idaho and Minnesota.