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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, June 1, 2002

Man found guilty of killing wife

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

William "Jimmy" Kotis was found guilty of murder yesterday, 10 years after he yanked his estranged wife out of a car at knife point, chased her, cornered her and gunned her down with a shotgun he had purchased two days before.

Lynn Kotis, 29, died outside her Waikiki apartment on Sep. 7, 1992. Her husband had obtained a permit earlier that month for the weapon he used, despite a conviction in 1988 for abusing his wife and despite Lynn Kotis' pleas, dating back to 1985, for court and police protection from her husband.

City Deputy Prosecutor Maurice Arrisgado said yesterday he plans to ask Circuit Judge Richard Perkins to sentence the 40-year-old defendant to the legally mandated life term with parole on the second-degree murder conviction, plus the maximum sentence of 25 years on the related courts of kidnapping and terroristic threatening.

"This is a classic case of domestic violence assault," Arrisgado said of the case. "If I can't have you, no one else can."

Lynn Kotis had moved in with another man after the long estrangement.

Kotis was arrested immediately after the shooting, and was held in the Oahu Community Correctional Center for four years while lawyers debated his mental competency to stand trial.

In October 1996, Circuit Judge Francis Wong committed him to the Hawai'i State Hospital in Kane'ohe. During a hearing in September 2001, doctors testified he had been faking mental illness to avoid prosecution, and he was ordered to trial.

The non-jury trial started in January and continued intermittently through May. Kotis yelled at witnesses, refused to talk to his lawyer, mumbled, periodically stomped out of the courtroom, and, during a closing statement, fell to his knees and begged forgiveness. He told the court that as he stood over his pleading wife and repeatedly fired the shotgun, his thoughts were: "We're finally going to have some peace together."

Yesterday, as Perkins prepared to deliver the verdicts in the case, Kotis sat between two guards on a courtroom bench behind the defense table, refusing to sit with his lawyer, David Bettencourt.

Kotis had tried to fire Bettencourt, his fourth court-appointed lawyer, and Bettencourt had asked to be taken off the case. Perkins had denied both requests.

At first during the hearing yesterday, Kotis quietly listened to the judge.

"I have considered the arguments of Mr. Arrisgado and Mr. Bettencourt," Perkins said, "And I have considered the oral and written submissions of the defendant — to the extent that I could understand them."

Then Perkins said he had rejected Kotis' contention that he was influenced by extreme mental and emotional disturbance, a finding that could have allowed the judge to find Kotis guilty of a lesser count of manslaughter and sentence him to time served.

At that point Kotis stuck his index fingers into his ears and mumbled to himself, rocking forward and back as the judge declared the verdict in the decade-old case: guilty of second-degree murder, kidnapping and terroristic threatening.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 26.