Two of three doctors find man accused of killing teacher mentally - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Two of three doctors find man accused of killing teacher mentally fit to stand trial

Tittleman Fauatea Tittleman Fauatea
Mother of Defendant Mother of Defendant
Dean Young Dean Young
Asa Yamashita Asa Yamashita

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two out of three court-appointed doctors have found an Oahu man who's accused of stabbing a school teacher to death mentally fit to stand trial.

But the third expert and defense attorney Dean Young disagree, saying Tittleman Fauatea is mentally unable to assist in his own defense.

As soon as suspected murderer Tittleman Fauatea stepped foot into the courtroom Monday, his mother broke down in tears and had to be comforted by family members.

"It's difficult for the family," Dean Young, defense attorney, said. "One thing that's interesting is they really want to meet the other family and talk to them, but it's just not the right time."

Fauatea is accused of repeatedly stabbing Asa Yamashita, 43, at the Ewa Town Center February 27th. The victim was a teacher at Waianae High.

In his letter to the court, licensed psychologist Stephen Gainsley, who found the defendant fit to stand trial, referred to a woman who reportedly looked similar to the victim and worked at a barber shop at the center.

"(Fauatea) appeared to have developed a preoccupation with the female barber, was rejected by her on several occasions, and developed a plan of revenge," he wrote in his report.

"The lady at the barber shop, I really have no knowledge of that," Young said. "Our position is that it was purely random. It was really a severe psychosis at that point of some hallucinations and stuff that caused him to react."

Gainsley also noted that the defendant "had a history of mental health problems since a teenager, with a diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder at age 17."

"He'll have moments where he'd go off on thoughts of, tangential thoughts where, just completely irrelevant to our conversation," Young said.

Richard Kappenberg of the American Board of Forensic Medicine also examined the accused murderer and found him fit to proceed.

"The data currently available suggests that Mr. Fauatea was suffering from some symptoms of mental illness at the time of the offense but that the symptoms were not directly involved in his decisions and actions," Kappenberg said in his report.

"He was not taking any medication and, if he suffers from psychosis, it's full blown at that point," Young said. "By the time the three doctors interview him and make their opinions, it's been three, four months in custody under heavy medication. So the person that they meet and interview and try to render an opinion about is really not the same person."

The third doctor, who found the defendant unfit to proceed, will be called to testify when the fitness hearing continues January 13th.

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