Wednesday, July 8, 1998



Eyewitness
expert to testify
at trial of alleged
Mililani rapist

It will be the
first time a Hawaii jury
has considered such
information

By Susan Kreifels
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

An expert on the memory of eyewitnesses will, for the first time in Hawaii, testify before jurors tomorrow.

Psychologist Jack Annon will take the stand in the trial of James Thompson, the alleged "Mililani rapist."

Thompson, 38, is accused of sexual assault, kidnapping and attempted sexual assault connected to five teen-aged girls last year. His parents and a friend have testified Thompson was with them during most of the alleged crimes.

Defense attorney Myles Breiner has told jurors that the girls misidentified Thompson because of media exposure, trauma and time that passed before they were asked to identify a suspect.

Annon said Hawaii will for the first time join other states in allowing a witness to testify before jurors on memory and eyewitnesses. Judges have determined that various factors affecting a witness' memory should be common knowledge and jurors didn't need an expert to tell them that.

But Annon said Circuit Judge Wilfred Watanabe, after listening to him, decided the information was important. "There's a lot of information now that the jury is not aware of. He (Watanabe) feared it wasn't common knowledge," Annon said.

Thompson testified yesterday that he believed police lineups in which victims identified him as their assailant were unfair because there was no one with similar looks to him. Included in the lineup were three old men with gray hair; one tall, sturdy Japanese man and a young boy, he said. "I told them (police) nobody looked like me," Thompson testified. "They said, 'Tough, that's what we're going with.' I felt it was already decided. They set me out to be this guy."

Thompson said he believes he did see one of the victims Sept. 27, the day the girl said a man in a car exposed himself to her.

Thompson said he asked her for directions to Zippy's restaurant. "She was pretty rude," Thompson testified. "I called her a kid and might have sworn at her."

He said she stood behind his car, perhaps memorizing his license plates. He speculated that the girl might have seen a CrimeStoppers bulletin on the Mililani rapes and decided to turn him in. But he said he didn't expose himself.

He later met up with his friend Hoyt Fortin, who testified they were together during an alleged crime later that day.

On the dates of two other alleged incidents, his parents, Billy and Saeko Thompson, testified their son was at their home with them. On the day of the first alleged assault, Thompson said he was at work and signed out at 10 p.m. He said he didn't leave for about another half hour and said goodbye to friends.

Deputy Prosecutor Paul Wong said the victim had been assaulted about 10:30 p.m.



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