Stabbing suspect denies planning
The man testifies he had a "white-out" when he killed a restaurant owner
HILO » Big Island murder suspect Yasushi Kato testified yesterday that he experienced a "white-out" at the time he stabbed and killed his boss at Waikoloa Resort on March 23, 2004.
Asked by his attorney Melody Parker whether he planned the killing of restaurant owner Yukichi Ito, Kato replied, "No, I didn't."
But Deputy Prosecutor Sandra Freitas reminded Kato that he told a psychiatrist during an evaluation that he wanted to harm Ito and he wanted to kill him.
Kato, 29, said those were only thoughts that he had.
There is no disagreement that Kato killed Ito, 62. The only question for jurors is whether the killing was planned, and therefore murder, or whether it was spontaneous, and therefore manslaughter.
Kato, a Japanese national, told about how he lived in America off and on since he was 21, but mostly in the company of other Japanese where he had little opportunity to learn English and was isolated from all but a few other workers.
In December 2003, he moved to Waikoloa from Los Angeles to work at the Hama-Yu sushi restaurant owned by Ito. Although Kato worked a 12-hour day and with multiple responsibilities, Ito repeatedly urged him to work harder, Kato said.
From the beginning, Ito made mysterious references to someone who had died in the area, according to Kato. On March 22, 2004, the day before the killing, Ito said to Kato, "Somebody did die over here. Do you want to be like that and get killed?"
Kato said he was shocked by the comment and took his sushi knife home with him that night because he was afraid. The next day, Ito seemed to sneer at him, he testified.
"I felt like my anger was riding up. It was a strong feeling that I never have experienced before," Kato testified through an interpreter. "I felt like things were white out in front of my eyes."
Kato said he remembers pushing Ito to the floor and struggling. "Then I remember somebody yelling 'stop.' I think I gained some actuality. I saw that I was stabbing Mr. Ito. I think I never stabbed after that," he said.
The case is expected to go to the jury by the end of this week.