WAILUKU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A jury on Maui listened to opening statements on Tuesday in the trial of a man charged with second-degree murder for a gruesome killing in a mall bathroom.
Kumulipo Sylva admitted to slashing Eduardo Alejandro “Alex” Cerezo’s throat with a machete at the Queen Kaahumanu Center on March 18, 2018.
Authorities said the attack in a second-floor restroom happened after a dispute between the men on a bus.
The first witness to take the stand was a friend of the victim who witnessed the crime in a second-floor restroom.
"He yells out his name and chops him in his neck, and then he falls to the ground," said Kyle Keoho, a friend of Cerezo. "He's like, 'Oh, I guess he was a demon and storms out.'"
The defense team said Sylva suffered delusions due to a mental illness called schizo-affective disorder.
“He does not see Alex Cerezo as a person. He sees a demon, a creature from hell crawling out of the ground,” said defense attorney Ben Lowenthal, in video provided to Hawaii News Now from Maui Now.
Sylva told police he killed Cerezo because he thought the victim was a demon.
The defense hopes the jury will find Sylva not guilty by reason of insanity.