GUAM – Prosecutors in the trial of a Guam man accused in a February 2013 rampage that left three Japanese tourists dead and 10 others injured presented witnesses Tuesday to counter the defense’s claim that he was mentally ill when the attack occurred.
Chad De Soto, 22, is charged with multiple counts of aggravated homicide and aggravated attempted murder stemming from the incident, in which he allegedly drove his car into a crowd of tourists deliberately and then stabbed people until he was incapacitated.
Aggravated homicide carries a penalty of life in prison without chance of parole.
On the second day of the trial, which is expected to last into next month, the court was told that under interrogation De Soto told police he was “instructed” to attack “when he spoke to the devil.”
Guam police officer Anthony Borja testified that when he interviewed De Soto four hours after the attack, he “mumbled in a low tone that the world was slowly deteriorating.”
According to Borja, De Soto said he was “destined for eternal damnation in hell” and that he had read somewhere that if a person were to commit violent acts that person would be “given a day off from hell.”
The police officer also told the court that when De Soto’s mother visited him shortly after the interview, De Soto “mentioned to her about the ying and yang theory, the ‘Battle of Good and Evil,’ and that he knows he’s going to jail for what he’s done.”
De Soto has pleaded not guilty on grounds of mental illness.
Defense lawyer Eric Miller said in his opening statement Monday that of three psychiatrists who will be called to testify about their findings on De Soto, two of them concluded he is not legally responsible for any crime.
The other psychiatrist, lead prosecutor Phillip Tydingco said, will present a different opinion.
Borja’s told the court De Soto claimed during the interview that he remembered striking people with his vehicle and stabbing people.
“He said he was aiming at them because he was frustrated,” Borja said.
De Soto also said he had been diagnosed with depression and was given prescription medicine, according to Borja, but his mother instructed him not to take the medication.
When asked what was bothering him, De Soto said his father was physically and verbally abusive throughout his childhood and that his father had also slept with other women during the marriage, Borje told the court.
Borja quoted De Soto as saying, “The only good thing in his life was a female friend” who had moved to the United States.
The officer said De Soto told him he had been awake for two or three days before the event.
Niel Romero, a high school friend of the defendant, told the court De Soto had difficulty dealing with his grandfather’s death in 2012 and struggled in his relationship with his girlfriend, which prompted Romero and other friends to give De Soto “some space.”
The prosecution has argued that De Soto’s depression and frustrations drove him to commit the crime, and not any mental illness.
During Tuesday’s court session, Tydingco said the prosecution estimates it will call about 30 witnesses. Some of those witnesses Japanese nationals, who are expected to testify next week.