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Defense in Guam rampage trial urges jury not be swayed by emotion

Kyodo

The defense in the trial of a Guam man accused of killing three Japanese tourists and wounding 11 other people in a rampage last year urged the jury Thursday to make their decision based on the evidence and not their emotions.

In his closing arguments, defense lawyer Eric Miller repeated that based on the evidence presented in the monthlong trial, particularly the assessment of two psychiatrists, defendant Chad Ryan De Soto was mentally ill and did not have the capacity to know right from wrong when he committed the crime on Feb. 12, 2013, at Guam’s main tourist area of Tumon.

“I’m going to ask you to deliberate this case with courage and integrity. And I say integrity because I need you to follow your instructions, not your emotions,” Miller told the 15 jurors present.

“I need you to look at only the evidence. You’ve got a lot of evidence from those three psychiatrists, especially from the two most experienced and trained psychiatrists who had the most information in deciding whether he was insane or not, that Chad De Soto was not guilty by reason of insanity,” he said.

While stressing that he did “not mean to diminish” the impact of De Soto’s acts on the lives of his victims, 13 Japanese visitors and a female resident, as well as of their families, Miller told the jurors: “You cannot let emotions steer you away from what you know your duty is.”

De Soto is charged with multiple counts of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder in connection with the night of Feb. 12, 2013, when he drove his car into a crowd of tourists and went on a stabbing spree, killing three Japanese and injuring 10 others plus a local woman.

He pleaded not guilty, citing mental illness. The prosecution asserted that he intentionally committed the crime out of frustration with his life after his grandfather’s death and the departure of his girlfriend in October 2012 for the U.S. mainland.

In the prosecution’s rebuttal, assistant attorney general Gerald Henderson highlighted the inconsistencies in De Soto’s statements to the police and the various psychiatrists who examined him, presenting three different stories that portray him as villain, hero or victim.

“He has the delusion that you’re going to believe the hero’s story. He has the delusion that he can do all of this, and not be found guilty,” Henderson said.

“Killing three people doesn’t make you crazy. It makes you a criminal. It makes him a murderer. And we ask you to return a verdict of guilty to all three counts of aggravated murder and all 11 counts of attempted aggravated murder,” he told the jury.