Tuesday, July 20, 1999

Tests narrow time of
elderly woman’s slaying

By Debra Barayuga


An elderly grandmother may have been dead for at least 24 hours before her body was discovered a week ago in the bathtub of her McCully condominium, according to medical examiners.

The woman's grandson, Denny Usui, 28, has been charged with second-degree murder in the slaying. At a hearing yesterday in District Court, deputy medical examiner Kanthi Von Guenthner testified that Joyce M. Usui, 78, probably died the evening of July 11, about two to three hours after she last ate a meal.

Usui died of asphyxia due to suffocation or strangulation, Von Guenthner said. The woman had evidence of bleeding in the soft tissues of her neck, which meant pressure had been applied, and a broken bone in her lower neck.

Police officers investigating a dropped 911 call traced to Usui's Iolani Court Plaza condominium the evening of July 12 were met at the door by her grandson.

They later found her body neatly covered with a blanket, except for her toes protruding, in her bathtub, officer Walter Gouveia testified.

Denny Usui earlier gave officers conflicting statements about her whereabouts but a short time later admitted she was in the shower dead. He refused to say anything more after that until he spoke to an attorney "because this is a felony and I never committed a murder before," Gouveia testified Usui said.

Deputy public defender Todd Eddins said Usui had been raised by his grandmother most of his life and they were very close.

But he had a history of schizophrenia that dates to the early '90s and "hears voices," Eddins said.

Usui has never been hospitalized for his mental illness and according to family members, did not have violent tendencies, Eddins said. Usui had been seeing a doctor and had been prescribed medication but hadn't seen the doctor or taken his medication for some time, Eddins said.

District Judge Tenney Tongg yesterday ruled there was sufficient evidence to try Usui for second-degree murder and sent the case to Circuit Court. Usui will be arraigned Aug. 2.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin