Kirk Lankford, shown here with attorney Don Wilkerson at left, was found guilty in the murder of Masumi Watanabe.
Killer’s wife to aid state’s penalty case
The wife of convicted murderer Kirk Matthew Lankford will testify on behalf of the state as it seeks to deny her husband the opportunity for parole.
An Oahu jury found Lankford, 23, guilty of second-degree murder last month in the death of missing Japanese visitor Masumi Watanabe.
The normal sentence for second-degree murder under state law is life in prison with the possibility for parole.
Prosecutor Peter Carlisle is asking Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto to sentence Lankford to an extended term of life in prison without the possibility for parole because of the danger he poses to others.
Under a change to state sentencing laws approved last October, it is up to a jury to decide whether a person qualifies for an extended prison term. Previously, judges made that determination.
The same jury that convicted Lankford is scheduled to begin hearing evidence Monday on whether he poses a danger to others.
Corrine Lankford is on Carlisle's list of witnesses. Carlisle has already given Lankford's lawyer, Don Wilkerson, signed statements from witnesses on his list, including one from Lankford's wife. Carlisle said Corrine Lankford will testify that her husband is domineering, controlling and harsh in his treatment toward her.
Wilkerson said the written statement also says Lankford performs certain sexual acts on his wife. But he said neither that nor rude behavior toward her indicates any danger to the public.
Carlisle also presented Wilkerson with written statements from people he says will testify about acts of cruelty Lankford performed on cats.
He also wants to present witnesses in a 2006 sexual assault case in which police questioned Lankford but did not charge him.
Sakamoto did not allow Carlisle to tell the jurors about the case during the trial because the victim in the case was not able to identify Lankford as her attacker. However, Sakamoto is giving Carlisle the opportunity to tell jurors about the case for sentencing if he can provide circumstantial evidence identifying Lankford as the assailant at a hearing this Friday.
Carlisle also wants the jury to hear about Lankford's criminal record as a juvenile, which he has not yet received from officials in Colorado.
Sakamoto said unless there were findings of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, he is not inclined to allow the jurors to hear about it.
Lankford has no previous convictions as an adult in Hawaii or in his native Colorado, according to court records. He was already in Hawaii in 2002 and enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa for the fall semester. He was also enrolled for the spring 2003 semester, according to UH records.