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Friday, May 26, 2000



Uyesugi’s father,
brother tell of
torment in his head

He was plagued by
'poking' in his head

Xerox workers cope with stress
What's next

By Debra Barayuga
and Suzanne Tswei
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

It began with the poking. Two, maybe three times a week for years.

Mostly in the head. Sometimes he felt it in his neck, shoulders, legs and arms. All day long sometimes, testified the father and brother of accused mass killer Byran Uyesugi.

Logo "From the time he comes home, until he goes to sleep," said Hiroyuki Uyesugi, Byran's father, about the invisible demon that tormented his son.

"He's poking me in the head," Byran would tell his older brother, Dennis.

Defense attorneys for the 41-year-old copy machine repairman contend he suffers from a mental disorder that affected him so severely at the time of the shootings that he could not know right from wrong. The defense argues that because of his mental condition, Uyesugi should be found not guilty of killing seven people and attempting to murder another co-worker or should be found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

As the defense began its case yesterday, a portrait of Uyesugi emerged as a reserved but respectful son and friend who was skilled with his hands, but also plagued by inner demons.

He was a perfectionist who went "all out" in his self-taught hobbies -- whether it was raising goldfish to sell, or woodworking or rebuilding engines, his brother testified.

He had about 1,000 different types of goldfish and would clean all his fish tanks before going to work each day, his brother said.

But even as he took pride in his fish, he believed someone was harming them. He once pointed out one of the fish to his brother, saying "something" had broken its back.

Byran accused coworker Jason Balatico of mutilating his fish, according to testimony.

His dad admonished him, saying he had no proof. But his son showed him the small slits in the fish and a broken padlock to the outdoor pond he had built.

Uyesugi also was haunted by a dark shadow, defense witnesses testified.

It appeared one night in 1993 at the foot of his bed, Dennis Uyesugi said. It jumped up and held him down by the ankles so he couldn't move, his brother testified. "He had to mentally will it away."

Doctors who later examined Uyesugi by order of the court called his beliefs about co-workers and demons a product of a delusional mind.

But they say a simmering anger directed at co-workers, not the delusions, caused him to enter the Xerox warehouse on Nimitz Highway Nov. 2 and open fire on seven co-workers. Experts hired by the defense are expected to testify Tuesday to rebut the opinions of the court-appointed experts.

Uyesugi's father suggested his son seek help from a doctor or a psychiatrist about the poking sensations. "I don't think doctors can help me," his younger son would say.

He missed work one day because of the sensations. His brother came home that evening to find his brother pummeling his head with his fists.

"I'm not crazy, leave me alone," he told them when his father suggested again he see a psychiatrist.

His father and brother were so concerned about the poking sensation and Byran's visions of a dark shadow that they sought the help of clergy. In 1997, the Rev. Clarence Higa advised them to dig four "pukas" in each corner of their Nuuanu property and bury rice, poi, mullet and beer.

Higa told them that there were menehune ponds located upstream and also mentioned an ancient battle in which the river once flowed red with blood, Dennis Uyesugi said.

Before he left, the reverend told them he would create a protective barrier in the Uyesugi yard to keep the spirits out. When Dennis asked his brother how he was doing a few days later, Byran related he had seen a shadow pass their garage and go down Laimi Road at night.

"I thought good, the shadow's outside our property," Dennis Uyesugi said. "It meant to me the protective barrier was working."

Childhood friend Brian Isara also testified about the shadow.

The streetlight outside Uyesugi's bedroom reflected a silhouette, a small black shadow about the size of a menehune, onto his bedspread, Isara said.

"I thought he was crazy. I kept asking the same question 'Are you sure, are you sure you're seeing that?' "

The house was blessed several times by Rev. David Kaupu of Kamehameha Schools. But while the poking seemed to stop for a few days after the blessings, it would eventually return.

Byran's work at Xerox, where he started in 1984, was never a topic of conversation at home. "He never mentioned his work to me -- not once," his father said.

If Byran did mention work, it was about co-workers who were persecuting him, sabotaging his parts and machines, trying to discredit him and get him fired.

Byran threatened a co-worker once, and the co-worker allegedly threatened to sue if he ever laid a hand on him, his father said. While the elder Uyesugi didn't identify the person by name, he said the co-worker was connected to the murders.

Byran once told his brother about a co-worker who tried to run him over in the Xerox parking lot. But when Byran approached the car, the window was rolled up and the driver had his hand over the horn. "They won't do anything," Byran said about his supervisors.

Isara testified Uyesugi complained that his coworkers mistreated him and called him a "junk worker" because they were jealous of his work performance.

Uyesugi said he wanted to kick their behinds, said Isara, who didn't view the comment as a threat.

Uyesugi mentioned Ron Kawamae and Jason Balatico, calling Kawamae the ringleader who influenced co-workers to harass him. Isara did not pursue the subject because he could see it was hurting his friend. "I could see he was unhappy. I didn't want him to feel any more pain, so I stopped the conversation," Isara said.

James Hughes, Western regional security manager for Xerox, met with Uyesugi in 1993 after local Xerox managers, including work team supervisor Melvin Lee, raised concerns after Uyesugi kicked in an elevator door and allegedly threatened co-workers.

Hughes testified he was concerned when Uyesugi talked about a conspiracy against him and that he had to take "physical retribution" against certain co-workers. Hughes felt Uyesugi had a "high potential for violence." He also knew of Uyesugi's extensive gun collection.

Hughes said he investigated all of Uyesugi's complaints, but, "I couldn't substantiate any of his allegations."


Xerox workers
try to heal with
day of relaxation

By Rod Ohira
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

Thirty employees took a day off from work recently to have a scavenger hunt and lunch in Waikiki with the blessing of their bosses.

It was a chance to relax and have fun, something these employees and 110 others who work for Xerox Hawaii need to do.

More than 200 days ago their lives were emotionally shattered when Byran Uyesugi gunned down seven of his co-workers.

Nov. 2 is still like yesterday for many, but Xerox "free recognition days," like the one administrative employees used for the Waikiki outing, have helped mend some of the damage.

"There's still discomfort talking about it," Glenn Sexton, Xerox Hawaii vice-president and general manager, said of the tragedy. "And some wounds were reopened with the trial.

"But the healing process has progressed. Our people have done an incredible job of performing their duties and serving customers throughout this ordeal. I'm really impressed by their courage."

Sexton said the company has offered "free recognition days" to all of its employees and each division plans its own social activity.

"Being a close family has helped us to cope," he said. "The employees have demonstrated a lot of care and concern for each other.

"Every month, we're trying to provide some kind of opportunity to bring employees together."

The Xerox Community Involvement Program, which is staffed by employees, has been a positive and constructive outlet, said Sexton.

More than 40 Xerox employees participated in the Visitor Industry's seven-mile "Charity Walk." Next month, employees are planning a cleanup at a shelter for women.

"Throughout the tragedy, the community has been very supportive to our employees and they're trying to give something back through the Community Involvement Program," he said.


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What's next

Bullet Tuesday: Nationally recognized mental health expert Park Dietz and psychologist Daryl Matthews are scheduled to testify.
Tapa
Wednesday: Psychologist Robert Marvit and Rev. David Kaupu will testify.




Xerox killings



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