HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An elderly killer broke down in tears as he apologized to his victim's family during his sentencing Thursday.
Melvin Yoshida's lawyer says he realizes that he took the life of the woman who pulled him out of his depression and brought him happiness. For that, the 72-year-old will likely never enjoy freedom again.
Melvin Yoshida was described by his attorney as a socially-awkward man who sank into a deep depression when his wife of 33 years died in 2008. But then another woman, Clare Silva, 54, came along and cheered him up.
"She made him feel good," Darcia Forester, deputy public defender, said. "She was very charming. She brought joy and happiness back into his dreary life."
But Silva just wanted to be friends, nothing more, and was dating another man. On April 12, 2009, Yoshida shot and killed her after seeing the other man leaving her apartment.
"It was a spur of the moment decision that he will regret for the rest of his life," Forester said.
The defense says Yoshida had the gun that morning because he was planning to kill himself and had even written a suicide note.
The victim's daughter listened, as the 72-year-old killer apologized.
"There's no words that I can really say to Clare, Clare Brenda Silva, for what I did," Yoshida said through tears.
The defendant made a deal with prosecutors, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and a firearms offense, and agreed to serve a 20-year prison term.
But prosecutors on Wednesday argued for a 40-year sentence, which was an option under the plea agreement, but called the killing premeditated, which seemed to support a murder charge, not manslaughter.
"What crime can be more serious than the intentional and premeditated taking of a human life?" Darrell Wong, deputy prosecutor, said Wednesday.
"The prosecutor's arguments that this case is really, in his opinion, a premeditated murder were an act of bad faith," Forester said during her arguments Thursday. "They were completely inappropriate and bordering on unethical."
The judge rejected the prosecution's sentencing request and handed down the 20-year term.