Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Wendy Latchum, widow of slain U.S. Army helicopter pilot
John Latchum, made a statement to the press yesterday at
the federal courthouse after the sentencing of Robert
Miguel to life in prison. With her were her son,
Josh, 11, and daughter, Briana, 7.

Army pilot’s killer
shows no remorse

Roberto Miguel is sentenced to
life for the Waianae murder

By Treena Shapiro

John Latchum will never walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding, never teach his son to drive, never build the house that they had dreamed of, Wendy Latchum said in federal court.

"We are left with an empty seat at our table and holes in our hearts," Latchum said yesterday at the sentencing of a man convicted of killing her husband, a chief warrant officer, June 3, 1998, on the porch of a vacation cabin at the Waianae Army Recreation Center.

"My dad was a good man and I miss him," son Josh Latchum said. "I just wish this never happened because we could have had a lot more good times together."

Wendy Latchum and her 11-year-old son Josh testified in U.S. District Court yesterday, asking that the Army pilot's murderers be given life sentences.

The vacation home where Army pilot John Latchum
was murdered on June 3, 1998, is seen through a chain
link fence. His wife and son testified yesterday at the
sentencing hearing for the two men convicted
of Latchum's murder.

Judge Helen Gillmor sentenced Roberto Miguel, 20, to life in prison. He also received a consecutive 20 year sentence for use of a sawed-off shotgun in a violent crime, as well as two 10-year sentences for firearms violations to be served concurrently .

Wendy Latchum gave similar testimony at yesterday's sentencing hearing for Bryson Jose, 23, who was also convicted of murder. His hearing was continued until Dec. 18 because he asked to change attorneys. She said that she and her children, who returned to Florida yesterday, will not return for Jose's sentencing.

Keala Leong, 21, faces 10 years in prison when he is sentenced September 17 after pleading guilty to attempted burglary in the case.

Seven-year-old Breanna Latchum was also present for the proceedings, sitting quietly and often holding on to her mother's hand or arm.

"She will never get to truly know her father because she was too young," Wendy Latchum said.

When Miguel had his opportunity to address the court, he did not display remorse for the murder, and instead focused on his sentence and being separated from his family in a federal prison on the mainland.

"But it's OK because when I die my soul will return to this island and reunite with my family and then I will have everlasting freedom," he said.

Miguel's mother, Jerilyn Lopez, said her son was sorry, however, and was just unwilling to display emotion.

"He feels sad for what he did," she said.

As for herself, she said, "All I can do is just hang in there and pray for my boy."

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