Saturday, September 25, 1999

Bank holdup suspect
faces mental exam

By Debra Barayuga


William Sarcedo Jr. was once a promising boxer.

He was a state champion and 1982 Junior Olympic Champion in the 100-pound class, his father, William Sr., said. But after suffering an eye injury in 1983 from an attack by a rival boxer, his son's performance declined.

And he eventually turned to drugs, William Sr. said.

Now he stands with federal authorities ready to charge him with several bank robberies.

Federal Magistrate Leslie Kobayashi yesterday ordered William Sarcedo Jr. to undergo an examination to determine whether he is mentally fit to proceed to trial.

Kobayashi found there was sufficient evidence to charge Sarcedo with bank robbery and sent his case for possible action by a federal grand jury.

But federal public defender Donna Gray asked that Sarcedo be first examined to determine whether he is mentally competent. The judge agreed and set a fitness hearing for Oct. 4.

Sarcedo is charged in a federal complaint with robbing the Kalihi branch of American Savings Bank on Sept. 9.

He was arrested that same day after a teller who has known Sarcedo for 12 years recognized him.

Sarcedo also was seen fleeing in a white station wagon that was stopped later in Mapunapuna.

Sarcedo later admitted to police that he robbed six banks that day and two others on Aug. 16 and Sept. 1 in Kaimuki.

While he is only charged with the Kalihi American Savings robbery, Sarcedo could be indicted on additional charges, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Johnson.

Family members contend Sarcedo, 31, does not comprehend the charges against him and that he wasn't in the right state of mind when he allegedly embarked on a crime spree Sept. 9.

Stress and failure to find work and provide for his family, as well as his addiction to crystal methamphetamine, or "ice," are responsible for his turning to crime, said Lisa Sarcedo, his wife of eight years.

"He doesn't remember what happened," she said.

William Sr. said his son barely slept during the five weeks before the robberies. In one week, he slept only three hours.

William Jr. was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the early 1990s after an incident in which he attacked and threatened to kill his father.

"It was the drugs talking," the elder Sarcedo said.

His son would never hurt him intentionally, William Sr. said. "He told me, 'I'd rather kill myself than hurt anyone.' "

His son would help others, later telling his father that it made him "feel good."

"He helped others but couldn't find a way to help himself," William Sr. said.

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