Grand Jury Indicts Man Accused of Killing Visitor from Japan

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A Kalihi man accused of killing a visitor from Japan will stand trial for murder. Wednesday, an Oahu grand jury determined there's enough evidence for the case to proceed.

Honolulu prosecutors decide against an open preliminary hearing, and instead ask the grand jury to formally charge the suspect, Kirk Lankford.

Grand jury proceedings are held behind closed doors. Homicide investigators are among those called to testify before the panel.

The 22-year-old Lankford made his first court appearance in the case Monday.

He's accused of killing 21-year-old Masumi Watanabe. The visitor from Japan went for a walk in Pupukea April 12th, and never returned.

"She was never seen again and is presumed to be dead, although her body has not been found despite extensive search," Vickie Kapp, deputy prosecutor, said. "Upon execution of a search warrant, eye glasses and blood from the suspect's work truck were identified through DNA as belonging to the victim."

After hearing the evidence, the grand jury indicts the former pest control worker on a murder charge. His bail is confirmed at $1 million.

The next step is Lankford's Circuit Court arraignment. He's expected to plead not guilty.