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Prosecution in Guam rampage trial seeks guilty verdict from jury

Kyodo

Prosecutors in the trial of a Guam man accused of carrying out last year’s rampage that left three Japanese tourists dead and 11 other people wounded sought a guilty verdict from the jury in their closing argument Wednesday.

“Tell him with your verdict that the reality, the final curtain, the final act is to find him guilty for his horrible, evil acts — the crimes of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder with deadly weapons upon 14 innocent human beings,” lead prosecutor Phillip Tydingco said during the three-hour closing argument.

“Don’t let him walk out here on an insanity defense, that he doesn’t have mental responsibility, when the evidence shows beyond reasonable doubt that he committed aggravated murder, and attempted aggravated murder,” Tydingco said, pointing at 22-year-old Chad Ryan De Soto, who has pleaded not guilty due to mental illness.

Tydingco said De Soto, who was suffering from depression after his grandfather passed away in late 2012, exploded on the night of Feb. 12, 2013 after his girlfriend, who had left for the U.S. mainland, broke up with him during an eight-hour Skype conversation the previous night, thwarting his plans of flying to join her.

“We have evidence of some of the oldest motives: hatred, revenge, rage . . . She crushes his goals and his dreams by breaking up with him the night before. And so, what does he tell her: ‘You will forgive me for what I’ll do tonight,’ ” Tydingco said.

The defendant, he asserted, acted with intent and premeditation, got his grandfather’s car with seven knives and drove from his home to the island’s main tourist area of Tumon, also known among locals as Pleasure Island.

Tydingco described De Soto as a man who was once regarded as an intelligent and articulate person and who was even famous locally for appearing in a local film in 2011.

The prosecutor said De Soto’s selection of the rampage site was “not a mere coincidence” as it was where he appeared in the film.

“We submit to you that he selected this area, his center stage, striking at the heart of our tourist area, to make certain that no one ignores him,” he said.

Of the three scientific and medical assessments on De Soto’s mental state carried out since the rampage, Tydingco said the findings of a psychiatrist of the U.S. Navy Hospital in Guam, which came out closer to the time when the crime was committed, have more significance.

That assessment found De Soto legally sane, while the other two assessments done later in 2013 concluded otherwise.

Tydingco also noted that a former clinical psychologist at the jail where De Soto is being held, during a month-long assessment that began two days after the rampage, did not find him to be psychotic.

He said De Soto’s own words and actions shortly before and after the rampage, including his conversation with his mother immediately after his arrest in which he said he realized he was going to jail for what he did, show he was not insane but “mentally responsible.”

Tydingco reminded the jury that the lives of De Soto’s victims will never be the same, with two Japanese children having to grow up without their mother and a crippled Japanese woman having to take on the responsibilities of her slain husband, for example.

“They came to Guam to celebrate life and they were confronted with death, or a man who would cause their death,” he said of the Japanese victims.

The most serious crime of multiple aggravated murder carries a penalty of life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole.