Convicted Tourist Murderer Asks Guam Court To Modify Sentence

DeSoto apologizes; asks that he be made eligible for parole

By Jasmine Stole

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 11, 2016) – Chad Ryan De Soto, the convicted killer who is asking to one day apply for early release from jail, apologized in court Monday for what he described as his utterly terrible actions.

“From the bottommost depths of my heart, I apologize to you,” De Soto said at a Monday morning hearing in the Superior Court of Guam. “I’m sorry.”

A jury found De Soto, 24, guilty of killing three tourists on Feb. 12, 2013. He was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole.

He drove his car through a group of pedestrians in Tumon, hitting Hitoshi Yokota, 51, who was hospitalized and died two days later. De Soto then jumped out the car and chased and stabbed bystanders, injuring 11 people and stabbing Kazuko Uehara, 81, and Rie Sugiyama, 28, to death.

De Soto two months ago asked Judge Anita Sukola to change his aggravated murder conviction to murder, which could eventually make him eligible for parole.

He read a written statement directed to the victims, their families and the people of Guam at Monday’s hearing, which was a continuation from last Friday’s hearing.

While his apology cannot reverse time and keep the fatal events on Feb. 12, 2013 from happening, it is something that people deserve from him, De Soto said.

“I hope that this apology may also be the start of healing for those who need it, as it is something you all automatically and without question deserve as well,” the 24-year-old prisoner said. “Your honor, with my heart enormously humble, I beg you for your understanding and mercy.”

De Soto said he was heartbroken over the pain and tragedy he caused to more than a dozen people and indirectly caused to countless others.

After listening to closing statements from the defense and prosecutors, Sukola has 90 days to decide whether to grant De Soto’s request.

His lawyer, assistant public defender Jocelyn Roden, asked the court to consider that De Soto had no previous criminal record, and to consider his mental illness and his youth when deciding if he can have a shortened sentence.

If the judge sides with the defense, De Soto would be eligible for parole after serving 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors opposed leniency for De Soto.

A life in prison without parole for aggravated murder is a just sentence, said Chief Prosecutor Phillip Tydingco. De Soto has to be held accountable for his actions, he said.

While the defense asked to reduce De Soto’s offense from aggravated murder to plain murder, Tydingco said there was nothing “plain” about De Soto’s crime.

“Did you feel mercy when you crushed Hitoshi Yokota with your car?” Tydingco asked. “Did you feel mercy when you stabbed to death Kazuko Uehara? Did you feel mercy when you stabbed to death Rie (Sugiyama)… the mother and grandmother trying to save their babies from you slashing them?”

As Tydingco listed the names of the people killed or injured by De Soto the night of his rampage, he lowered his head and kept it down. De Soto did not say why he attacked and killed people that night, and his motive was never raised during his trial.

Another chance 

De Soto asked Sukola not to judge his life on a single day, but to judge his life as a whole.

“The AG’s office, the community, the entire world has zoomed into a single day in my life, hyper analyzed it and have judged me immensely for it,” De Soto read from his statement. “But that is not the only day I have lived.”

He pleaded with the judge to take the thousand other days of his life and weigh it against the night of Feb. 12, 2013.

He was not in trouble with the law before that night, he said, and he has not caused problems while in custody.

“Please, your honor, I deeply beg that you allow me the opportunity in the future to prove that I could be given another chance at life in the community,” De Soto said.

In response, Tydingco said because of that night, there are three people who are dead and 11 others whose lives changed forever.

“Does that one day define you?” Tydingco asked. “In terms of the criminal law, it does.”

The chief prosecutor said it was not the attorney general’s office who loaded De Soto’s car with knives, drove through a sidewalk of pedestrians and then stabbed bystanders.

Pacific Daily News
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