Tuesday, April 20, 1999

Defendant in fatal stab-

bing says he was scared

By Susan Kreifels


Pierre Fetu Taifai testified yesterday at his murder trial that he and a friend were going to use a park bathroom when a large naked man inside swore loudly and then rushed them.

Taifai, then 17, and his friends threw their cans of beer at the man, who he said punched him and made him black out for a few seconds.

He said the man then went after Taifai's friend.

"His face was real evil," said Taifai. When the defendant's butterfly knife fell out of his pocket, he grabbed it, closed his eyes and started swinging.

"I was scared. I just wanted the man to get away from me and my friend."

The defense says Taifai was acting in self-defense when he fatally stabbed Alton J. Anderson, 23, on Aug. 1 in a Neal Blaisdell Park restroom in Pearl City. Anderson lived with his girlfriend in a makeshift hut under a nearby bridge and took showers in the restroom every night.

The state has charged Taifai with second-degree murder, accusing him of brutally stabbing Anderson 11 times.

Taifai has no record and had won an award as "most improved student" in spring 1998 at Youth Challenge, a boot camp-style alternative education program at Barbers Point.

The day of the killing he had finished summer courses at Leeward Community College and intended to join the military.

In his opening statement, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Glenn Kim said thinking the victim was "gay" or a "faggot" was all it took to persuade five teen-age boys who had been drinking to go after the man taking a shower in the restroom with his girlfriend nearby.

But Kim didn't ask Taifai yesterday if that was a motive.

Taifai said Anderson was still moving when he left the restroom. He turned himself in to police and confessed to the stabbing when he heard on the news that Anderson died.

Taifai admitted that he lied to police when he said he drank 16 beers that night instead of only seven or eight. He also said he lied when he told police three friends "mobbed" Anderson after the stabbing.

He said he believed he stabbed Anderson six times and that he saw the victim's blood spurting against the wall.

Cassandra Au, a former teacher, testified that Taifai was a "very truthful kid."

She said outside the courtroom that "his integrity was so natural ... if there ever was a perfect student," Taifai was one of them.

Anderson's family said the victim had three children with his girlfriend and that he was not a homeless drifter. The children were staying with family while the couple, who had money problems, lived under the bridge.

"He had a family who loved and cared for him," said cousin Alice Sedeno. "He was not just a nobody."

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