Murder defendant William Kotis held his head and rocked back and forth yesterday as Judge Richard Perkins found him guilty of murder in the 1992 killing of his wife, Lynn Kotis.

Kotis found guilty
in wife’s slaying

A judge rejects his mental illness
defense in a murder conviction

By Leila Fujimori

A 40-year-old man charged in the shooting death of his wife a decade ago plugged his ears, shook his head and mumbled incoherently as a Circuit Court judge convicted him of second-degree murder, kidnapping and terroristic threatening.

Judge Richard Perkins found William "Jimmy" Kotis did not suffer from extreme emotional and mental disturbance at the time of the shooting -- conditions that the defense maintained should lead to a manslaughter conviction.

"William Kotis, by all accounts, is a psychopath, and he should never be let out again to kill another person," Senior Deputy Prosecutor Maurice Arrisgado said after the verdict.

Kotis approached Arrisgado before leaving the courtroom and handed him an envelope with photos of his wife and son, which he asked to be sent to his mother-in-law.

Kotis faces life imprisonment for killing his 29-year-old estranged wife, Lynn Kotis, with a shotgun in the parking lot of her Waikiki apartment building on Sept. 7, 1992.

Had the judge found him guilty of manslaughter, he might have been released in September, when he will have served 10 years, the penalty at the time of the shooting. Manslaughter now carries a 20-year penalty.

Perkins ruled Kotis did not meet the standard for legal insanity because he could appreciate the wrong of his conduct and conform his conduct.

Although Kotis' court-appointed attorney, David Bettencourt, initially raised the insanity defense, he later said there was no evidence to support it.

Kotis was convicted of spousal abuse in 1988, and in July 1992 a temporary restraining order was filed against him.

When he learned his estranged wife was moving off island with her boyfriend, Kotis was upset and said he would kill her, Arrisgado said during the trial.

Bettencourt said Kotis lost control when he shot his wife at point-blank range. But the prosecution's psychologists testified his well-thought-out plan of getting a firearms permit, buying a gun and renting a car displayed control.

Kotis is expected to appeal. Sentencing is scheduled for July 26.

Outside the courtroom, Arrisgado said that in 1997, when he took over the case, doctors who worked with him for years at the Hawaii State Hospital diagnosed him as malingering or faking his mental illness. But Kotis was found unfit to proceed to trial by at least five mental-health expert panels, causing delays.

"It's been a torturous and agonizing process to finally bring William Kotis to justice," Arrisgado said.

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