HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The first Japanese national to be extradited to the United States and convicted of murder is now asking the Hawaii Paroling Authority to be paroled halfway through his original sentence of 40 years behind bars.
The case made headlines in Hawaii and Japan because it involved a famous fortune teller whose clients included Japanese prime ministers, business leaders and organized crime figures.
In February 1994, a fire broke out in a penthouse apartment at 1350 Ala Moana, next to Ala Moana Center. Inside, emergency crews found the body of well-known Japanese psychic Kototome Fujita, who had been shot and beaten.
That same day, the burned-out car of her son, 21-year-old Goro Fujita was found along Kapahulu Avenue near the Honolulu Zoo with his dead body inside. He had also been shot.
Now, the lawyer for Raita Fukusaku, the man found guilty of second-degree murder in the case, says it's time for his release.
"He has completed half his sentence, so he should be eligible for parole consideration," Myles Breiner told Hawaii News Now Thursday.
Fukusaku was 29 years old when he was convicted. Evidence in the case included a security video of him transporting the body of the younger Fujita -- his friend and roommate -- in the elevator of Discovery Bay condo in Waikiki.
"We've asked repeatedly that Mr. Fukusaku be paroled to the Japanese authorities to be deported immediately and to serve out whatever time he has in Japan," Breiner said.
Fukusaku was sentenced to back-to-back 20 year sentences, requiring him to spend 40 years behind bars. At a minimum sentencing hearing next week, Breiner will ask for 10-year-sentences for each death, making him eligible for parole right away.
But prosecutors said he should spend 60 to 80 years behind bars.
"This was a high-publicity case. It involved what looked as very callous and calculated actions on the part of Mr. Fukusaku," said Darrell Wong, a senior deputy city prosecutor. "There were surveillance videos that showed that the defendant throughout this incident was very calm and collected, even as he tried to tidy up the crime that he had made."
But the dead psychic's younger brother, Yozo Fujita, has repeatedly written letters to U.S. and Japanese officials asking for Fukusaku's release, saying he doesn't believe he murdered his sister.
Defense attorneys have insisted that Goro Fujita was the illegitimate son of a major Japanese underworld leader who wanted him killed because he stood to inherit a Yakuza fortune, a theory a Hawaii state judge did not allow to be introduced at the trial.
"Our defense was that he was a coerced accomplice. His family was being held by organized crime elements in Japan against their will. His fiance had been kidnapped. We tried to bring this into court, we were precluded from bringing it into court," Breiner said.
Attorney Gary Modafferi, who defended Fukusaku along with Breiner at his 1995 trial, is traveling from Las Vegas to Honolulu to help Breiner argue their case next week before state parole officials.
Fukusaku is serving time along with hundreds of other Hawaii inmates in the Saguaro prison, a privately operated facility in Arizona.
"He's been incarcerated for 20 years now. He's had not a single write up, he's done every program he's been asked to do. He even became trained to cook and prepare kosher food for the inmates that have a kosher diet," Breiner said.
But Wong, of the city prosecutor's office, said the murder convict's model behavior behind bars should not determine the sentence.
"It's a cold-blooded murder is what our office had referred to when the conviction first came down," Wong said.