Guam Man Found Guilty Of Murdering 3 Japanese Tourists

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Jury renders verdict after 2 weeks of deliberations

By Cameron Miculka

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, August 5, 2014) – Chad DeSoto showed no emotion yesterday afternoon as Judge Anita Sukola read the jury's verdict: guilty on all counts of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder.

The man, who killed three tourists last year during an attack in Tumon, faces 14 life sentences, plus an additional 350 years in prison.

He is scheduled to be sentenced 9 a.m. Sept. 25.

The verdict came after more than two weeks of deliberations by the jury that returned yesterday's verdict.

Deputy Attorney General Phillip Tydingco welcomed the verdict.

"This is a good day for justice in Guam," he said yesterday, following the reading of the verdict.

DeSoto was arrested following an attack in the heart of the island's tourism district, during which he drove his car into a crowd of tourists on the sidewalk near the SandCastle.

DeSoto then crashed into an ABC convenience store, at which point he exited the vehicle and began chasing and stabbing bystanders.

Two women, Rie Sugiyama, 29, and Kazuko Uehara, 81, died from stab wounds.

A third tourist, 51-year-old Hitoshi Yokota, died in the following days from injuries he sustained from being struck by DeSoto's vehicle.

Eleven other people were injured in the attack.

DeSoto was subsequently charged with three counts of aggravated murder and 11 counts of attempted aggravated murder.

DeSoto's attorneys maintained that he was not guilty by reason of mental illness.

The trial began on June 16.

In the weeks that followed, prosecutors put several of the victims on the stand, along with eyewitnesses who helped respond to the injured tourists.

The defense responded by putting on the stand psychiatrists who evaluated DeSoto.

The court put the case into jurors' hands on July 18, and it took more than two weeks for the jury to announce it had reached a decision.

Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas yesterday said that the prolonged deliberations didn't cause him concern about the possible verdict.

"I would have been concerned if they came back sooner," he said. "There was just way too much evidence for them to just burn right through it."

Rapadas said prosecutors wouldn't have hesitated to retry the case if jurors had been unable to reach a verdict.

Prosecutors said they plan to push for life sentences without parole for each of the three aggravated murder charges and 11 attempted aggravated murder charges.

On top of that, DeSoto faces an additional five to 25 years for each of the 14 special allegations of the possession and use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony.

Prosecutors said they plan to seek the maximum sentence for each one of those convictions.

Altogether, that comes to a possible 14 life sentences plus an additional 350 years in prison.

Assistant Public Defender Jocelyn Roden declined to speak at length about the case's outcome.

However, she said, she was grateful for the jury's efforts.

"I am just thankful that the jurors hung in there and they made a thorough deliberation," she said, "and I still have my faith in the justice system."

The attorney general also acknowledged the jury's efforts to deliberate the case.

"They were able to discern between the truth and the act the defendant was trying to sell them," Rapadas said during a press conference after the verdict.

He also applauded the efforts of his prosecutors and investigators who worked on the case.

"This team put together an airtight case the defendant could not get out of," Rapadas added.

Attorneys for the defense and prosecution stated yesterday that they plan to call witnesses to testify at the sentencing hearing.

It's unclear if off-island witnesses will return for that hearing.

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