Man Accused of Murdering Japanese Visitor Appears in Court

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- A Kalihi man accused of killing a visitor from Japan goes before a Honolulu judge.

Kirk Lankford is spending his first night at the Oahu Community Correctional Center, unable to post $1 million bail. Authorities moved him there after his first court appearance Monday.

Lankford says nothing during the brief hearing. But his attorney says the 22-year-old maintains his innocence.

A former pest control worker listens, as his attorney tries to control the amount of media attention on this murder case.

"With regards to the extended coverage, I believe it was made by KHNL," Donald Wilkerson, defense attorney, said. "And according to rule five, five two of the Supreme Court rules, only KHNL should be allowed cameras."

The defense loses this round, as the judge approves media coverage.

Lankford is accused of killing 21-year-old Masumi Watanabe. The visitor from Japan went for a walk in Pupukea April 12th, and never returned. Police are continuing to search for her body.

"Your honor, the bail has been set at $1 million," Katrina Ordonio, deputy prosecutor, said.

According to a police affidavit, the DNA on the prescription glasses lens found in Lankford's work truck matched that of the DNA recovered from Masumi Watanabe's toothbrushes. Investigators say they also found blood in his work truck. The suspect no longer works for Hauoli Pest Control.

"The Lankford family sends their condolences to the Watanabe family," Wilkerson said.

"How is your client doing?" reporter asked.

Wilkerson wouldn't comment further.

"At this point, it would be inappropriate for me to make any statement," he said.

A preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday. But that will be canceled if prosecutors present the case to a grand jury and obtain an indictment before then.