Murder suspect linked to assault case
A Kalihi man accused of murder in the disappearance of a visiting Japanese national was a suspect in an unrelated alleged sexual assault about a year earlier.
But while the sex assault victim identified her assailant's truck and police believe Kirk Lankford was the driver, no photo lineup was conducted and no arrests were made.
Lankford, 22, is currently charged in the presumed death of Masumi Watanabe, 21, earlier this year.
Defense attorney Don Wilkerson said Lankford was not charged in the alleged sex assault, and is asking that statements Lankford gave to police regarding it be excluded from the upcoming murder trial, scheduled for Feb. 10.
The defense is also asking Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto to dismiss a murder-by-omission count in the indictment, saying the grand jury was not presented with evidence of any injuries, a crime scene or anything that ties Lankford to the crime scene.
Sakamoto is expected to hear oral arguments today.
Watanabe, who was staying with a host family in Pupukea, was last seen at about 10 a.m. April 12 walking on Pupukea Road. The family reported her missing later that day. A witness reported seeing her get into a white truck near Foodland at the bottom of Pupukea hill. Lankford has admitted to being in the Pupukea area that day because of a job.
Yesterday, police Detective Gregory McCormick said he was with a detective who served a warrant on Lankford on April 21 at his Kalihi home after a license plate reported by a couple was tracked to Lankford's work truck.
The couple had notified police earlier that they had heard a female screaming outside their home in 2006, and observed a man and a female driving away in a Hauoli Termite & Pest Control truck.
Back at the police station, McCormick said he ran Lankford's name in the computer database, as well as his work truck's license plate, and discovered the sexual assault case.
Lankford declined to talk to police about the missing-persons case but agreed afterward to speak to McCormick about the sexual assault case after waiving his rights.