Lankford Takes Stand on Murder Trial - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lankford Takes Stand on Murder Trial

By Mari-Ela David

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- A murder suspect on Oahu testifies in his own defense about the day a Japanese tourist vanished.

"I had been thinking about it throughout the day and it just seemed like the right thing to do was to bury her if I was going to do something," said defendant, Kirk Lankford.

Details about the death of Masumi Watanabe are coming straight from the Kalihi man accused of killing her.

Lankford took the stand Wednesday and admitted he kept her body in the back of his truck all day while he worked, and that night while he went to church.

Lankford says Watanabe's death was an accident, but he chose to bury her on his own because he was afraid if he told police, he'd lose his job.

During a tearful confession, Lankford says he was only trying to give Masumi Watanabe a peaceful burial.

"The only other thing I could think to do was to put her body in the ocean. I thought that that would hopefully be as peaceful as burying her by the ocean," he said.

During cross examination, prosecutor Peter Carlisle showed no mercy.

"You were asked this question specifically: 'Do you recognize this female?' Correct?" asked Carlisle.

"Yes," said Lankford.

"And your answer was no. Correct?" asked Carlisle.

"That's correct," said Lankford.

"That was a false statement, right Mr. Lankford? That was a lie," said Carlisle.

Lankford, a pest control technician, says he was driving his work truck around Pupukea when the young Japanese woman suddenly stepped in front of it.

He says he offered her a ride, but during the ride, Lankford says Watanabe got upset, jumped out of the truck, struck her head on a boulder and died.

"I took her body. I put it in the compartment. I put it back into my personal truck. I put her inside of a bag, taped up the bag," said Lankford.

Lankford admits the surveillance video is of him buying supplies to get rid of the body. He says he later dumped Watanabe in the waters off Kualoa. Watanabe's body has not been found.

Cross examination continues Thursday.

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