Accused stabber pleads not guilty


POSTED: Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tittleman Fauatea's lawyer says he is not sure whether he will pursue an insanity defense for the apparently unprovoked stabbing last month of a popular Waianae High School teacher.

“;It's looking like it will be a big issue,”; said Dean Young, Fauatea's court-appointed lawyer.

Fauatea appeared in Circuit Court yesterday on closed-circuit television from Oahu Community Correctional Center for his arraignment and plea for second-degree murder.

Young pleaded not guilty on Fauatea's behalf.

Fauatea, 25, is charged with murder in the Feb. 27 stabbing death of Asa Yamashita at the Ewa Town Center. He remains in custody unable to post $500,000 bail.

Young said he did meet briefly with Fauatea last week but had difficulty talking to him. He said he is not sure whether the difficulty was due to Fauatea's mental condition, the medication he is receiving at OCCC for it or both.

Fauatea has a history of misdemeanor convictions on Oahu due to unusual behavior, and a history of treatment for mental health in Hawaii and California.

According to state court records, Fauatea displayed violent behavior during his hospital stays in California, the Hawaii State Hospital and at Kahi Mohala Behavioral Healthcare in Ewa Beach. He has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Police said Fauatea purchased a foot-long kitchen knife at Longs Drugs at Ewa Town Center, handed the cashier a wad of money and walked off without getting change. He then headed toward Ewa Seed Co., encountered Yamashita sitting on a bench outside, eating a bowl of noodles, knocked the bowl out of her hand and stabbed her several times, police said.

Yamashita stumbled into a nearby nail salon and later died. Fauatea walked away from the shopping center.

When a police officer spotted him on the shoulder of Fort Weaver Road, police said, Fauatea raised his hands and placed them on the back of his head, went down on the ground as instructed and was arrested without incident. Police said they found what they believe is the knife that killed Yamashita in the bushes nearby.