An update on past news

Saturday, January 26, 2002

Ronald Ching, shown here in 1984, is serving a life term at Halawa prison for the murder of Larry Kuriyama and three others.

Senator’s murder remained
unsolved for nearly 20 years

By Treena Shapiro

Question: What ever happened to the murder case of state Sen. Larry N. Kuriyama in 1970?

Answer: On Oct. 23, 1970, state Sen. Larry N. Kuriyama, 49, the father of five, was gunned down as he returned to his Aiea Heights home after a Pacific Palisades political rally.

He had been elected to the House of Representatives in 1959, won a Senate seat in 1966 and was re-elected in 1968. He had been running unopposed for his third term.

Kuriyama was the first chairman of the House Higher Education Committee in 1959 and was described as "a powerful figure in the development of University of Hawaii" during the university's rapid growth in the 1960s. He criticized Gov. John A. Burns for vetoing a bill calling for higher tuition for out-of-state students.

The senator led the committee that led to the first shakeup of the state's penal system.

Kuriyama was shot five times at close range, with one bullet striking his heart. He died minutes later at Leeward Community Hospital.

Police determined that Kuriyama's murderer had been a hired professional. In 1975, two men were tried separately for the murder, and both were acquitted.

Fourteen years later, underworld figure Ronald K. Ching confessed to Kuriyama's murder, as well as that of then-Honolulu Prosecutor Charles Marsland's son, Charles III, in 1975, Arthur K. Baker in 1978 and Robert Fukumoto in 1980.

After finishing a term in federal prison on the mainland for narcotics violations, Ching was transferred to Halawa prison, where he is serving a life term with the possibility of parole for the murders.

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