Wednesday, January 17, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Uyesugi defends himself in lawsuit

By William Cole
Advertiser Staff Writer

Byran Uyesugi the convicted murderer yesterday became Byran Uyesugi the law practitioner.

Byran Uyesugi gets to leave his jail cell.

Advertiser library photo • Nov. 4, 1999

Uyesugi is defending himself against a lawsuit that was filed after he committed the state’s worst mass murder by gunning down seven co-workers at Xerox Hawai
i on Nov. 2, 1999.

Convicted murderers sentenced to long prison sentences often default and just don’t answer lawsuits against them, said attorney David Gierlach, who is representing George Moad in his complaint against Uyesugi and the Xerox Corp. Moad discovered the bodies.

But Uyesugi, 41, appeared in Circuit Court yesterday in prison garb and leg shackles for a hearing on a request by Xerox to dismiss two of six counts in Moad’s complaint against the company.

Asked by Circuit Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo if he wanted to respond to Xerox’s motion, the former copy machine repairman said, "I’ll review the documents first."

Hifo set Jan. 26 for a response. Uyesugi also said he was undecided whether he would argue orally before the court.

Moad’s lawsuit accuses the company of "ratifying" Uyesugi’s actions because it knew of his "dangerous propensities," but Xerox argued that the law is clear that an employee who commits violence is acting outside the scope of the worker’s employment.

Uyesugi was convicted last year when a Circuit Court jury rejected his insanity defense that he could not "appreciate" the difference between right and wrong. His mental illness, his lawyers said, included delusions that he was haunted by "black shadows" and intense poking sensations in his head.

Uyesugi, who was sentenced to life without parole, calmly answered Hifo’s questions yesterday, sitting for much of the hearing with his folded arms propped on the table in front of him.

Halawa prison Warden Nolan Espinda yesterday said he understands Uyesugi’s desire to represent himself.

"The opportunity to get out of the institution and go to court and experience something different than he is going to experience for the rest of his life is perfectly understandable to me," Espinda said.

Espinda said Uyesugi, held in the prison’s "protective custody unit," has minimal, if any, contact with inmates in the general population.

"He’s in a very confined area with a dozen or so inmates," Espinda said, adding that the measure is partly for Uyesugi’s safety.

Although Uyesugi hasn’t shown any particular interest in law while in prison, Espinda said he has participated in religious services, which include counseling.

"Other than that, he has not participated in any other forms of programming," Espinda said. The prison warden said Uyesugi has acted obediently at Halawa.

"It’s been a very undramatic stay so far," Espinda said.

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