MANILA – The trial over a vehicular rampage and stabbing spree on Guam a year ago that left three Japanese dead and several others injured has yet to begin after the defendant waived his right to a speedy trial and claimed mental illness as his defense.
Judicial official Joshua Tenorio said by email that the “significant delay” in the prosecution of Chad Ryan De Soto is “because of the need for psychiatric experts that can conduct psychiatric and forensic evaluations.”
De Soto has pleaded not guilty to the multiple murder and attempted murder charges, citing mental illness. He has undergone two psychiatric assessments so far, but the court sealed the results from the public at the request of his lawyer.
During the most recent pre-trial hearing in December, Judge Anita Sukola set the trial proper to begin April 7.
Tenorio admitted that the standard time for resolving criminal cases on Guam is supposed to be one year, a target adopted by Guam’s Supreme Court.
“This case is a bit more complex. And in this case, the defendant waived his right to a speedy trial,” he said.
But Tenorio also was eager to offer the assurance that justice will be served in this trial.
Aside from the legal proceedings, the victims can also count on Guam’s Victims Bill of Rights and victims advocates’ groups that work under the Office of the Attorney General, Tenorio said.
De Soto remains under detention in the medical unit of the island’s main jail facility, but he has a cellmate, jail spokesman Antone Aguon said.
“He’s still quiet and just keeps to himself. He does talk to his cellmate and other detainees, but he’s generally very quiet,” Aguon said of the 22-year-old defendant.
Aguon said De Soto, who receives regular visits from his family, has not been involved in trouble while in the detention center and has not repeated an attempt to escape.
Last Feb. 27, he tried to get away after his restraints were removed before entering court for his arraignment.
“He has been given a Bible to read. And he also works on some little projects, specifically, paper products. These are to keep them busy,” Aguon said.
De Soto is accused of plowing his car into Japanese tourists and stabbing others and a local woman with a knife on the night of Feb. 12, 2013, in Guam’s main tourist area of Tumon.
Three Japanese died, and 10 other Japanese and the local woman were injured.
The most serious charge against him — aggravated murder — carries a penalty of life imprisonment without possibility of a parole.