Trial Opens for Man Accused of Killing Japanese Tourist Masumi Watanabe

Peter Carlisle
Peter Carlisle
Stephen Paty
Stephen Paty
Lisa Nakayama
Lisa Nakayama

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- It's a case that drew international attention. On Monday, trial got underway for a Kalihi man accused of killing Japanese tourist Masumi Watanabe.

Hideichi Watanabe breaks down in tears, as prosecutors talk about the death of his only daughter.

Masumi Watanabe, a shy 21-year-old from Sado Island, Japan, went for a walk in Pupukea on April 12, 2007.

"She did not finish her walk," Peter Carlisle, Honolulu prosecutor, said. "She was never seen again."

Even without a body, prosecutors believe they have enough evidence to show the visitor was murdered.

Prosecutors say Kirk Lankford was a Hauoli Pest Control employee working in the area that day, and that investigators found the victim's prescription glasses and other evidence during a search of his truck.

"The last traces of her life's blood were found in the Hauoli truck," Carlisle said.

Prosecutors show jurors surveillance video from two different stores that day. They say Lankford is seen buying trash bags, cleaner with bleach, a flashlight, duct tape, gloves and a shovel.

A homeless man told police he caught the 22-year-old digging a hole at Kahana Bay.

"His digging was interrupted," Carlisle said.

Two witnesses testify they saw Watanabe near a truck on Pupukea Road shortly before her disappearance.

"She was saying no to something," Stephen Paty, prosecution witness, said. "Whatever it was they were talking to her about, she was saying no, in my estimation."

"I saw the woman I now know was Masumi getting into the truck," Lisa Nakayama, prosecution witness, said.

"How much of her did you see?" Carlisle asked.

"Just her rear end and part of her leg," Nakayama replied. "And she was crawling into the driver's side door."

The trial continues Wednesday.

The defense is choosing to deliver its opening statements after prosecutors finish presenting their evidence.