Victim reacts as court approves conditional release for 2009 Koko Head attacker

Victim reacts as court approves conditional release for 2009 Koko Head attacker
Benjamin Davis
Benjamin Davis
Iwamoto's scars
Iwamoto's scars

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was 2009 when Nicholas Iwamoto was brutally attacked after he hiked to the top of Koko Head. He survived, but now he's angry that the man arrested for the attack is being released from the Hawaii State Hospital.

Iwamoto was stabbed 18 times. He also suffered a broken neck and a fractured skull from falling into a ravine during the attack.

The attacker, Benjamin Davis, was acquitted by reason of insanity. On Thursday, a circuit court judge approved a request to release Davis into a halfway house, taking him a step closer to re-entering the community.

"To actually hear it's happened and his release is imminent is a bit shocking," said Iwamoto in a phone interview.

Judge Richard Perkins approved the request after a panel of three doctors -- including two psychiatrists -- determined that Davis was no longer a danger to the community. Iwamoto was notified of the decision, but because Davis wasn't found guilty, he had no say in the process.

"My words would have had no impact on the final decision, and that's distressing to know that I don't have a voice," said Iwamoto.

According to the court papers, Davis, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, will be released into what's known as a State Operated Specialized Residential Program when a bed becomes available. The program would give him the highest level of care, and also the highest level of supervision. But that's no comfort to Iwamoto, who no longer lives on Oahu. He believes Davis should remain in custody for the violent attack for the rest of his life.

"We all have the power to choose," said Iwamoto. "No one held a gun to his head telling him to put a knife to my head 18 times. But he made that choice."

Iwamoto also wrote the following letter, sent to Hawaii News Now via email:

To the people of Hawaii,
        It is with deep regret that I inform you that the individual that attacked me at the top of Koko Head has been granted release from the state hospital. I had zero say in the matter. I am absolutely disgusted, but I'm not surprised. The deference shown to violent criminals is unfortunate. The days of personal accountability are over. A team of three medical experts has decided that one criminal's pursuit of happiness is more important than public safety. The Honorable judge approved the release. We the people can do nothing to stop it. How do we change this?
         The DA's office has informed me that He Who Must Not Be Named is making great strides in returning to a normal life; he has even been taking online courses on our tax dollar. Bully for him. His progress is such that he claims he does not even remember butchering me like an animal and disposing of my body off a cliff. I remember. I remember the taste of blood and dirt in my mouth. I remember not being able to cry for help in the ravine because opening my mouth caused blood to squirt out of the hole in my left lung. I remember coughing up pieces of lung and small rocks for two weeks. I remember not being able to move to wipe the tears off my face when my mom told me she loved me from the bottom of her heart.
         To those who say I should forgive this monster and let go of my anger, I respectfully disagree. You did not experience the terror of neck surgery. You have not opened nearly seven figures worth of medical bills. You have not lived through the agony of opiate withdrawals and seizures. You have not seen your mom suffer the effects of PTSD. She has endured more than I can imagine.
         Though I am disappointed, I have much to be grateful for. I am grateful that my mom has the strength of Margaret Thatcher. I am grateful for my beagle, Rapunzel. I am grateful that Geri and Steph risked their lives by hiking to the top of the crater to find me. I am grateful for Lincoln for the helicopter ride and the rest of the Honolulu Fire Department for rescuing me. I am grateful for the Honolulu Police Department. Thank you for securing Koko Head with assault rifles. While I am unable to fight for the country that I love so dearly, I am grateful for all who have served. To many of you returning from war, I know how much you are hurting. You are not alone. You are never alone. To Dr. Nishida, Dr. Mitsunaga, Dr. Graham, Dr. Blum, Dr. Morrelli, Dr. Pangilinan, and the countless doctors, nurses, and paramedics who kept me alive, thank you. Last, but not least, I am grateful for YOU, the people of Hawaii. I am overwhelmed by your generosity, from supporting my knitting ventures to your support via social media. Keep it coming! Your kind words have meant so much to me in my darkest hours. Mahalo nui loa!!!
         I've come so far since I was stabbed. I have a long way to go, but I will get there and I cannot emphasize enough how much your encouragement means to me. That is all. Thank you for reading this. If I can leave you with one last thought, it is this: there's nothing wrong with holding on to anger, as long as you make room for love. Hawaii is my home; it is the land that I love. I will never run. I am not afraid. God Bless you and God Bless America.

                                    Nicholas Iwamoto

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