Arakawa Guilty of Manslaughter

Published: Feb. 19, 2002 at 9:39 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 12, 2011 at 6:37 PM HST
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Clyde Arakawa is now a convicted killer. Tuesday afternoon a jury found the former police officer guilty of manslaughter for the death of Dana Ambrose, a year and a half ago. It's a verdict that brought relief to the Ambrose family and disbelief to Arakawa's family.

Jurors had to sift through 13 days of experts and witnesses on both sides, contradicting each other. Arakawa's attorney's closing words to the jury on Thursday were, if the shoe doesn't fit, you must acquit. Apparently, jurors decided the shoe fit.

Clyde Arakawa walked into court a free man, but in a matter of minutes the entrance turned into a one way door.

Thr court clerk read aloud: "We the jury in the above entitled case find the defendant Clyde Arakawa, guilty as charged of manslaughter."

Arakawa remained stoic throughout the hearing, while the verdict brought tears to Ambrose's mother. The jury believed the former police officer acted recklessly by being drunk, speeding and running a red light, before crushing 19-year old Dana Ambrose to death.

On October 7, 2000 Arakawa went on a 7 hour drinking binge and took in about 11 drinks. At the time of the accident, his blood alcohol level was estimated at .165, more than twice the legal limit to drive. Ambrose family members watched every day of this three week trial and left court vindicated.

Dana's mother, Susan Ambrose, said, "This is a fight we fought for our daughter and as well as the community. Thank you."

The man who closed the case on Arakawa also choked on his words when describing Dana Ambrose.

"Once you find out about this young woman, you realize she had a remarkably bright future. It's a shame to see that go. It's a tragedy, it's a crime. That's what it is," said city prosecutor Peter Carlisle.

Carlisle says the defense put forth a number of phony experts who claimed Arakawa was not drunk and has a superior liver that keeps him sober. Their accident reconstruction experts testified it was Ambrose who was at fault for speeding, running a red light and not wearing her seat belt. His defense attorney remained defiant.

Michael Ostendorp, Arakawa's attorney, said, "It does not reflect the evidence in this case, obviously somebody did not take a look at all the evidence."

Right after the verdict, Arakawa's bail was denied. He waved to his parents and was immediately taken into custody. His parents left the courtroom distraught and his mother shared this final thought.

"No, it's not fair."

Two hours later, the man who spent a career placing handcuffs on criminals found himself shackled. Arakawa exited the courthouse for his new life as an inmate.

Ostendorp will appeal Tuesday's decision, he believes some jurors made up their mind before the trial began. Arakawa will be sentenced on April 22nd and could face 20 years in prison.

It wasn't easy for the jury to make the guilty decision in the Arakawa case. The nine women and three men team deliberated for about 10 hours before reaching a unanimous verdict. At one point, jurors were leaning toward the lesser charge of negligent homicide. But later concluded Arakawa guilty of manslaughter, that he ran the red light, and was impaired by alcohol and was speeding.

Jury forewoman, May Shim said, "It wasn't a decision we made at one time. Its been such a turmoil having to go through this for so many weeks. Not to speak to anyone for awhile , not to speak to fellow jurors, so it's been a mental drain for all of us."

The jury began deliberating Thursday, then took a break during the three-day Presidents Day weekend. They then resumed their sessions Tuesday.