Uyesugi unlikelyConvicted multiple murderer Byran Uyesugi is joining an exclusive group of "lifers" in the Hawaii prison system.
to be ever
Attorneys say that given the
level of his offenses, he'll
never get out alive
Criminals serving life without parole.
What crimes get life without parole.
Uyesugi's father issues apology.
By Debra Barayuga
The list of inmates serving life terms without parole includes convicted murderers Orlando Ganal, Norman Montira, Roy Apao, Catherine Samuel, Lael Samonte and Clyde Pinero.
But Uyesugi, sentenced yesterday by Judge Marie Milks, will stand out among them for having committed Hawaii's worst multiple slaying.
"The crime is going to be the overshadowing historical fact by which all other mass killings are compared," Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter said of Uyesugi, a Xerox copy-machine repairman who killed seven co-workers last November.
In 20 years, Hawaii law provides that the Department of Public Safety and Parole Board file an application to the governor on Uyesugi's behalf for a commutation of his sentence to life with the possibility of parole.
Based on the heinousness and "total deliberate indifference to human life" of the crime, Van Marter believes Uyesugi will never get out of prison.
Attorney Mike Green, who has defended death-penalty cases on the mainland, agrees. "It's not even a remote possibility," Green said.
Uyesugi's lawyers said their client wants to appeal, but Green says he can't think of any issues that would cause the Hawaii Supreme Court to reverse the conviction.
Hirouki Uyesugi, father of convicted murderer Byran Uyesugi, released the following statement to the families of the Xerox shooting victims yesterday through his attorney, Lester K.M. Leu:
From: Hirouki Uyesugi
To: The families of the
"I am sorry for what Byran has done to you, your family and loved ones. I know my apologies are inadequate. Although Byran will spend the rest of his life in prison, nothing will bring back your loved ones.
"I hope one day you can accept my apologies for what has happened to you, your children and loved ones."
If the evidence against the defendant is overwhelming, the appellate courts normally don't disturb the jury's findings, Green said.
"In this case, (both parties) were allowed to put on their case," Green said. "That's it."
The argument that Uyesugi will not receive the proper treatment he needs for his mental illness is of no consequence since he is not likely to be released back into society, Green said.
"There's no rehabilitative purpose in this sentencing," Green added.
Van Marter said the court handled the trial "expeditiously, efficiently and fair" to both parties and with respect for surviving family members. "I think the court's rulings were fair and correct."
Uyesugi was admitted directly to the mental health unit for assessment after being transported to Halawa High/Medium Security Facility at about noon yesterday.
Depending on the assessment and Uyesugi's past behavior while at the Oahu Community Correctional Center awaiting trial and sentencing, Uyesugi could be either placed on suicide watch -- constant 24-hour surveillance -- or safety watch, which means he is checked by staff every 15 minutes, Warden Nolan Espinda said.
In the next four to six weeks, prison social workers will assign an appropriate custody level that will determine where Uyesugi will be housed permanently.
One likely possibility for Uyesugi is the protective custody unit -- a specialized unit at Halawa's high-security complex reserved for inmates who are a danger to themselves, other inmates or to the efficient operation of the prison.
To receive a mandatory life term without parole, there must be murder in the first degree. A person commits Murder One if the person intentionally or knowingly causes the death of:
(a) More than one person in the same or separate incident;
(b) A peace officer, judge or prosecutor arising out of the performance of official duties;
(c) A person known by the defendant to be a witness in a criminal prosecution;
(d) A person by a hired killer, in which event both the person hired and the person responsible for hiring the killer shall be punished under this section; or
(e) A person while the defendant was imprisoned.
Lifers are not automatically placed into protective custody.
According to his lawyers, Uyesugi has indicated that he wants out of protective custody, his classification in recent weeks at OCCC.
Module B, home of the protective custody unit, currently houses about 25 protective-custody inmates.
Inmates are double-celled, meaning they have a roommate. They spend at least eight hours at night and a couple hours between shifts confined to their cells, Espinda said.
The rest of the day is spent in a day room separate from the rest of the prison population where they can interact with other protective-custody inmates, watch TV and play cards
Inmates there cannot be moved without escorts and when they are, "everybody else stops," Espinda said.
The inmates also are allowed an hour of recreation in an open-air, enclosed yard each day.
Meals are delivered to the module and eaten in the day room. Showers are adjacent to a "quad," made up of six cells. Medical personnel go to them, rather than having inmates escorted to the infirmary.
Uyesugi is safe in Hawaii's prisons, Espinda said.
If placed in protective custody, Uyesugi won't be treated differently from any other protective custody inmate, he said.
When asked if Uyesugi was a likely candidate for transfer to a mainland prison, Espinda would said a "vast majority" of inmates serving long-term sentences remain at Halawa and are not transferred to mainland facilities.
Also, the mainland prisons will no longer accept out-of-state inmates convicted of multiple-murders.
Here are some inmates serving a mandatory life term without parole in Hawaii's prisons:
'Lifers' in Hawaii
Norman Montira: Convicted of shooting three people, fatally wounding one, in April 1997 in the driveway of a Nanakuli home. The three had intervened when Montira threatened his girlfriend with a gun.
Orlando Ganal: Convicted of killing five people in a rampage in August 1995. He shot and wounded his wife, Mabel, and son before fatally shooting his in-laws, Aradina and Santiago Dela Cruz. He then drove to the Kailua home of Wendy and Michael Touchette, tossing a firebomb into their bedroom that killed their two young children. Michael later died of his injuries. Wendy underwent a long period of surgery and recovery as a result of her burns, but survived.
Clyde Pinero: Convicted for fatally shooting Officer David Ronk in June 1989 with the officer's own service revolver during a struggle at Pinero's Waianae home. Pinero was on probation for robbery and criminal property damage convictions when Ronk and two other officers went to the home to serve him with outstanding warrants and a temporary restraining order by his wife.
Catherine Samuel: Convicted of murdering a fellow inmate, her ex-lover Agnes Spear, at the Kailua women's prison on New Year's Eve 1989.
Lael Samonte: Convicted for trying to kill a police officer during a December 1988 shooting and standoff with police. He also was convicted in the same incident of attempting to shoot his estranged girlfriend's mother and brother before police arrived.
Roy Apao: Convicted of beating Faafouina Tualolo to death in July 1974 with a bumper jack. He was the first to be convicted under a state law that punishes defendants who murder prosecution witnesses with life imprisonment without parole. Tualolo was to testify against Apao, who was awaiting trial for killing his neighbor.