Monday, June 16, 2014

Guam: Update--Defendant, 22, Charged in Death of 3 Japanese Tourists, 120 Witnesses to Testify

According to The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the murder trial of a 22-year-old man charged with killing three Japanese tourists during a rampage on Guam last year opened Monday (June 16) with the prosecution saying rage triggered the attack, while the defense argued the defendant was mentally ill.

Prosecutors accuse Chad Ryan DeSoto of driving his car down a sidewalk, crashing into a convenience store, then getting out and stabbing bystanders during the February 12, 2013, attack that killed the three tourists and injured 11 others.

Chief Prosecutor Phillip J. Tydingco told the eleven-woman, one-man jury that DeSoto, his anger and rage fueled by problems with his life and relationships, committed his crimes in the heart of Guam's Tumon tourist district.

Tydingco said he will present evidence that DeSoto told his mother four hours after the attack that he was going to jail.

Tydingco called three witnesses to the stand Monday, including a security guard for The Globe nightclub who said he witnessed the defendant plow his car into pedestrians standing nearby. 

The three Japanese tourists killed were Kazuko Uehara, 81, and Rie Sugiyama, 29, who were stabbed to death; and Hitoshi Yokota, 51, who was hit by a car and died in a hospital two days later.

COMMENT:  An estimated 120 people are expected to testify during the trial, which court officials say will likely last more than a month. One of the key witnesses expected to testify is the defendant's former girlfriend, Reanne Acasio.

The Public Defender told jurors they will hear from the defense next month, when the defendant's family, including his mother, will testify. 

He also said three psychiatrists will testify that DeSoto has a mental illness. Miller added that toxicology reports will show no drugs were in the defendant's body and that the victims were chosen at random.

Guam is a popular destination for Japanese tourists, with the territory getting about 200 flights from Japan weekly, Guam Visitors Bureau spokesman Josh Tyquiengco said. Last year, Guam had 1.3 million visitors, and industry experts expect arrivals to grow this year.

The visitors bureau is paying for the transportation and lodging of some witnesses from Japan and Australia at the request of Guam's attorney general.

The trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday (June 17).