Guam – The suffering and grief was palpable in the courtroom today as the prosecution’s final witness took the stand in the DeSoto murder trial.
Yusuke Sugiyama wept as he talked about the night he lost his wife and nearly lost his two young daughters on February 12, 2013.
Sugiyama says he was with his family on Guam for his brother-in-law’s wedding. The family had finished eating dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and went down stairs to shop at the Outrigger’s ABC Store.
Sugiyama, his wife, Rie Sugiyama, his daughters Rui and Riho were waiting outside the ABC Store for the rest of their family who were still shopping inside. Suddenly, he says, a speeding car was heading in their direction, struck the baby stroller that was carrying one of his daughters then slammed right into the ABC Store.
“A man was coming out with a knife so I grabbed my younger daughter and ran for safety,” Sugiyama explained. But he says the criminal, Chad DeSoto, chased after him. Sugiyama fell down to the ground and DeSoto attacked him, he says, stabbing him in the chest and his daughter in the face. At that time Sugiyama says he could hear his wife screaming in the background, but he was so dazed he did not realize that DeSoto was about to attack her next.
Today, the two men locked eyes for the first time since that night as Sugiyama was asked to point out DeSoto in court. After Sugiyama calmly pointed out DeSoto, he continued his firm gaze for a few more seconds as DeSoto looked on with little expression on his face.
Sugiyama says after he snapped out of his daze, his wife, Rie, and her grandmother, Kazuko Uehara had already been stabbed. He says he ran toward his wife and screamed for help.
He followed his wife to the hospital, but didn’t see her again until after she was pronounced dead.
Sugiyama sobbed as he was asked to describe how this event has affected him. He says he feels nothing but sadness for his 2 daughters knowing that they will grow up without a mother. One year later, he says, and he still thinks about his wife.
Finally, he said, what angers him the most is that his older daughter was still stabbed in the face even though his defenseless wife died protecting her.
Chad DeSoto is facing three counts of aggravted murder and 11 counts of attempted aggravated murder. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to driving his car down a crowded Tumon sidewalk, crashing into the Outrigger’s ABC Store and then jumping out and stabbing people at random.
With that the prosecution rested its case in chief. The defense team presented theirs this afternoon calling several of DeSoto’s family and friends to the stand. DeSoto’s mother, Rae DeSoto described what her son was like in the weeks leading up to February 12, 2013, noting that at one point he was essentially disabled as they had to help him shower and hand feed him.
DeSoto’s younger brother, Mason DeSoto, who was 14 at the time of the incident, also testified that at one point his brother had told him that he saw visions of souls scattered on the horizon and that God would hand pick which souls to take.
Trial reconvenes tomorrow morning at 10 am. More defense witnesses are expected to testify.