Lankford seeks mercy in North Shore slaying


POSTED: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Convicted murderer Kirk M. Lankford asked for leniency during a parole board hearing yesterday, saying the death of Japanese visitor Masumi Watanabe was a result of a series of accidents.

;[Preview]    Prosecutor Seeks 120 Year Sentence For Kirk Lankford

The man convicted of killing a young japanese visitor in pupukea faced her parents in a dramatic hearing. 3/3/09



But at least one parole board member indicated Lankford could be facing a long minimum sentence.

“;What we have in front of us just screams out long minimum,”; parole board Chairman Albert Tufono said.

Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle said Lankford had a “;sociopathic personality”; and asked the parole board to set the minimum sentence at 120 years.

The board gave Lankford 30 days to present more information before it makes a decision, after his attorney, Donald Wilkerson, complained about the lack of time to prepare for the meeting yesterday.

Lankford was sentenced on July 31 to life in prison with the possibility of parole, after being convicted of second-degree murder.

Watanabe's parents presented more than 35,000 letters, mainly from Japan but some from Oahu, asking for Lankford to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Her father, Hideichi Watanabe, a manager of a painting business in Niigata prefecture, asked for Lankford to be imprisoned for as long as possible.

Watanabe said his daughter's body was never recovered and she was killed by a very cruel means.

“;We have not been able to get closure,”; Watanabe said through an interpreter.

“;When we think about the terror my daughter must have experienced and the horrible way she died, we can never let this defendant get away with his crime ... We cannot begin to explain the pain this has caused our family.”;

Carlisle said Lankford is young and does not have a significant criminal history, but has shown the behavior of a sociopath.

In an unrelated case, Carlisle said Lankford's vehicle was linked to an incident in which an exotic dancer was choked near Roosevelt High School.

Carlisle also said Lankford's former wife complained that he forced her to have sex and has committed animal and child abuse.

Lankford apologized for disposing of Watanabe's body in the ocean and depriving the parents of a burial.

But he said he did not intend to kill her. Lankford claimed he accidentally struck her on April 12, 2007, while driving on Pupukea Road. He said he had her get in his truck to look for the house where she was staying. He said after apparently passing the house, she became worried and jumped from the truck, dying in the fall.

Lankford said he later stuffed her body in garbage bags and disposed of her in the ocean.