Convicted Killer Avoids State's Stiffest Punishment of Life Without Parole - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Convicted Killer Avoids State's Stiffest Punishment of Life Without Parole

Phillip DePorto Phillip DePorto

By Minna Sugimoto

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- A lack of evidence means a convicted killer will have a shot at freedom someday.

Honolulu prosecutors want Kirk Lankford to spend the rest of his life in prison. But the man convicted of murdering Japanese tourist Masumi Watanabe avoided the state's harshest sentence of life without the possibility of parole Monday.

The jury that convicted Lankford last month returned to court expecting to hear arguments on whether he should serve life without parole. But late in the day, prosecutors threw in the towel.

"All rise," the court clerk announced.

After much anticipation, the extended sentencing hearing for convicted murderer Kirk Lankford is over before it begins.

"At this time, the state will be withdrawing its motion for an extended term of imprisonment," Peter Carlisle, Honolulu prosecutor, said.

Prosecutors pull their request for the state's stiffest punishment of life without parole, after all three mental health experts who examined Lankford report there's not enough evidence showing he'll be a danger to the community in the future.

"This has been extremely emotionally draining on Mr. Lankford," Donald Wilkerson, defense attorney, said. "He is, he's in tears right now. He has lost everything because of this."

The former pest control technician maintains 21-year-old Masumi Watanabe died after she jumped out of his moving truck. Her body hasn't been found.

With nothing left to decide, the jury of four men and eight women is finally released from its duties. At least one juror says he's not too concerned about Lankford getting out of prison someday.

"It doesn't bother me that, the way that the case was presented and what the judge said, I fully believe in what he said and I accept that," Phillip DePorto, juror, said.

The defense still plans to appeal the verdict.

"The jury rushed to a conclusion," Wilkerson said. "They had hundreds and hundreds of exhibits to review, and they only spent a day and a half on it. I don't think they did their duty."

DePorto disagrees, saying jurors reviewed everything.

"Each person that got up to spoke, we talked about them," he said. "And then we decided, well, this one's good, this one's, we're not going to hold as much to this one. So we went through everyone. We did not leave anybody untouched."

Lankford will officially receive his sentence of life in prison with the chance of parole at the next hearing July 31st. It will be up to the Hawaii parole board to decide how much time he must serve before he's eligible for release.

Job Link 8 Featured Jobs
  • Hawaii News Now headlinesNewsMore>>

  • Some turned away from over-capacity grad ceremony at UH

    Some turned away from over-capacity grad ceremony at UH

    Sunday, December 17 2017 1:16 AM EST2017-12-17 06:16:54 GMT
    (Image: Hawaii News Now)(Image: Hawaii News Now)

    Clad in their green academic gowns and fancy caps, nearly 1,000 UH Manoa students walked the stage at Stan Sheriff Center on Saturday for the University's Mid-Year Commencement Ceremony. 

    More >>

    Clad in their green academic gowns and fancy caps, nearly 1,000 UH Manoa students walked the stage at Stan Sheriff Center on Saturday for the University's Mid-Year Commencement Ceremony. 

    More >>
  • Six Hawaii post offices to be open this Sunday

    Six Hawaii post offices to be open this Sunday

    Sunday, December 17 2017 1:08 AM EST2017-12-17 06:08:01 GMT
    (Image: Hawaii News Now)(Image: Hawaii News Now)

    HONOLULU, Hawaii – The Postal Service announced that the following six Oahu Post Offices will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Sunday to serve its seasonal increase in holiday customers. - Airport (Main) Post Office - Ala Moana Post Office - Kaneohe Post Office - Mililani Post Office - Waialae Kahala Post Office - Waipahu Post Office Postal officials expect Dec...

    More >>

    HONOLULU, Hawaii – The Postal Service announced that the following six Oahu Post Offices will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Sunday to serve its seasonal increase in holiday customers. - Airport (Main) Post Office - Ala Moana Post Office - Kaneohe Post Office - Mililani Post Office - Waialae Kahala Post Office - Waipahu Post Office Postal officials expect Dec...

    More >>
  • N. Korea unmoved as world unites against its nuke ambitions

    N. Korea unmoved as world unites against its nuke ambitions

    Friday, December 15 2017 5:35 PM EST2017-12-15 22:35:55 GMT
    Sunday, December 17 2017 12:11 AM EST2017-12-17 05:11:12 GMT
    North Korea's friends and enemies joined forces Friday in opposing its determination to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state and calling on leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate the denuclearization of the Korean...More >>
    North Korea's friends and enemies joined forces Friday in opposing its determination to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state and calling on leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.More >>
Powered by Frankly