Man refuses to implicate wife in slaying of ex-wife and daughter*
HILO » Defendant Tetsuya Yamada firmly refused to say that his wife of 1996 killed his ex-wife and her daughter, despite that being the key claim in his defense of a wrongful-death lawsuit.
On the stand this week, Yamada, 68, also denied with equal firmness that he himself was the killer.
At issue in the civil lawsuit is who killed Carla Russell, 50, and Rachel De Cambra, 23, in Hilo on Sept. 29, 1996.
Attorney Kris Laguire, representing plaintiff Esther De Cambra, Russell's surviving daughter, left no doubt who he thought killed the mother and other daughter.
"You shot them, didn't you?" he asked Yamada accusatorily.
"No sir," Yamada replied.
The lawsuit trial is the third round in a series of flip-flopping events in the case.
In 1999 a jury found Yamada guilty of manslaughter in the two shotgun slayings. Wearing a beard then and known by the nickname "Grizzly," Yamada did not testify.
Yamada had told police he suffered a blackout during the killings, but he assumed he killed the women living near him on his 9-acre property because he came out of the blackout holding a shotgun.
In 2004, after the state Supreme Court ordered a new trial and after Yamada has spent more than six years in prison, a new jury found him not guilty.
In that trial, the clean-shaven Yamada testified he did not kill the women and that he found his wife, Puanani Haili, coming from the scene of the shooting with the shotgun in her hands. He said he took the blame to honor his marriage vow to protect his wife. She later died.
In the plaintiff's portion of the latest trial, attorney Laguire called Yamada to testify against himself as an adverse witness on Thursday.
Yamada refused to say his wife killed the victims.
"I don't know because I haven't seen her shoot anyone," he said. "If I say she's the killer, then I'm a liar."
Yamada's attorney, Gerard Lee Loy, declined to cross-examine Yamada since Lee Loy will call him later in the trial to testify on his own behalf.
The plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
» Defendant Tetsuya Yamada refused to assert that his wife of 1996 killed his ex-wife and her daughter, even though that claim is key to his defense in a wrongful-death lawsuit. A headline on Page A3 yesterday incorrectly said Yamada denied that his wife killed the victims.