Other man shot bookie to death, defendant says
He testifies he fled after the shooting out of fear for his life
A Waimanalo man accused of fatally shooting his bookie says he saw an unidentified man with a gun confront Robert Lee in the garage of his Pensacola Street apartment building before hearing a "pop."
Donny Hiramoto, 33, took the stand yesterday in Circuit Judge Steven Alm's courtroom and denied pulling the trigger but said he fled because he thought he was going to be next.
"I was afraid, thinking the guy could shoot me," Hiramoto said.
He initially had told police he was not anywhere near Lee's apartment and had gone Christmas shopping instead. Later, he admitted he was there to make a payment on a debt.
Yesterday, Hiramoto said he waited for a half-hour in the parking garage of Lee's apartment before he spotted him reversing his truck into the garage.
As he waited, Hiramoto said he was clutching his wallet inside a bag he carried because he had been robbed before and knew Lee also had been robbed before, he said.
As Lee pulled into the garage and stepped out of his truck, Hiramoto said he saw a male running quickly from the front of the building toward Lee and holding what appeared to be a gun. Hiramoto said he ducked behind the car where he had been sitting just moments earlier.
The unidentified man asked, "'Where's Donny?' and a few seconds later, I heard a pop," Hiramoto said, so he ran.
Hiramoto said he did not stick around because "I was freaked out" that the man knew his name.
"I just thought about my family and is it worth my family," he said.
He said he later lied to police because he did not want to get involved and he figured out the cameras would show them who really shot Lee.
Prosecutors said surveillance cameras that Lee had installed just a few weeks earlier showed Hiramoto, and no one else, was in the area around the time of the shooting.
Hiramoto said he had no reason to shoot Lee and that Lee had not threatened him to repay the money.
Hiramoto also denied telling anyone, much less a cellmate at the Oahu Community Correctional Center, anything about his case, on his attorney's advice.
John Lean, who bunked with Hiramoto at the Kalihi prison, went to prosecutors later and told them Hiramoto had told him he killed Lee and how. Lean, who faced jail time for drug convictions, reached a deal to testify for the government in return for leniency.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Hiramoto faces life with the possibility of parole.