Parolee to stand trial
in hammer slaying
He's accused of killing a manBy Linda Hosek
outside a fast-food restaurant
A 34-year-old California parolee who allegedly used a hammer to pound a man to death outside the University Avenue Burger King is fit to stand trial, a judge has ruled.
Circuit Judge Frances Wong yesterday also set Jan. 20 as the trial week for Monte L. Young, accused of second-degree murder in the May 10 death of Manoa resident Paul Ulbrich, 44.
Ed Harada, deputy public defender, said the ruling means Young understands his charge and can assist in his defense. It was based on an evaluation of Young by a state panel of two psychologists and a psychiatrist.
But Harada said he would seek a mental defense for Young, who allegedly hit Ulbrich several times with a hammer.
He declined to discuss Young's mental diagnosis, but said he would have to prove that Young didn't know right from wrong or that he couldn't conduct himself appropriately at the time of the incident.
If acquitted, the state could commit Young to the Hawaii State Hospital, approve a conditional release or fully release him if officials believe he no longer suffers from a mental condition.
Harada also said Young has not decided if he will ask for a jury or nonjury trial, saying jurors can resist mental defenses.
Deputy Prosecutor Jean Ireton said the state would proceed with second-degree murder. If convicted as charged, Young could face life without parole.
The state filed a motion for enhanced sentencing, which would boost the term from life with parole to life without parole based on provisions for crimes that are especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.
Harada said he would oppose the motion on constitutional grounds, saying the standards to boost the term are not specific.
"When you have ambiguous language, there is a danger of being unfair," he said.
Young, a former construction worker, was convicted of arson in 1993 for setting fire to his father's San Diego home. He was paroled in March 1996 after serving about half of a five-year sentence, but was wanted for parole violations, a spokeswoman for the California State Parole Office said.
Before the 1993 conviction, Young was on probation for a 1991 conviction for assaulting his former girlfriend with a deadly weapon.
Young had lived in Hawaii about three months before police arrested him four times from May 8 to May 15 on suspicion of domestic violence, theft, driving a stolen car and second-degree murder in Ulbrich's death.
He was in custody when police arrested him for the May 10 murder.
The medical examiner's office said Ulbrich died from a skull fracture with inter-cranial injuries caused by blunt trauma consistent with blows from a hammer.
Chi Chung Leung, a witness at Young's preliminary hearing, said he saw Young pushing Ulbrich about 7 a.m. in front of Burger King, but didn't see Ulbrich push back.
Leung said he turned away for a few seconds, looked back and saw Young standing over a prone body, clutching a hammer with two hands.
He said he saw Young strike the victim's head twice, but heard the hammer hit seven times.
Officer Ernest Robello, the first on the scene, said he found Ulbrich lying face down in a pool of blood with a severe head injury. He said Ulbrich had a faint pulse and wasn't breathing. He also said he found a "large wooden-handled hammer" with what appeared to be dried blood in a basket in a nearby parking lot.
Young, whose initial bail was $300,000, is being held without bail.