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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 24, 2002

Trial defendant pleads with slain wife's family

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

A man on trial for gunning down his estranged wife in a Waikiki parking lot in 1992 got down on his knees in Circuit Court yesterday and begged his late wife's family to forgive him.

William James "Jimmy" Kotis, who demanded to represent himself at times on second-degree murder, kidnapping and terroristic threatening charges, was allotted 40 minutes by Circuit Judge Richard Perkins to make his closing argument in the jury-waived trial.

But Kotis turned instead toward the gallery and asked his slain wife's mother, father, sister and brother to forgive him.

"I never had one moment of satisfaction in what happened — it's been hell," Kotis said.

He told the family he believes the spirit of Lynn Kotis now resides within him and that he dreams about her often.

"I wanted to die with her but the gun jammed. I refused blood transfusions (after being shot by police) and I tried to hang myself," a weeping Kotis told the family.

But city Deputy Prosecutor Maurice Arrisgado told Perkins that Kotis killed his wife, Lynn, then 29, for purely selfish reasons. She had broken up with him and begun a new life with another man and William Kotis wanted to make sure that if he couldn't have her in his life, no one else would either, Arrisgado said.

The shooting caused a public uproar because Kotis was issued a permit to buy the gun even though he had a criminal conviction and because Lynn Kotis obtained a temporary restraining order in hopes of protecting herself.

Arrisgado yesterday asked Perkins to find that Kotis was not under extreme mental or emotional distress when he shot his wife and was in control of his actions at the time. Kotis took a series of rational steps leading up to the shooting including applying for a firearms permit, buying a shotgun that he later used to shoot his wife, renting a car to drive to Hobron-area apartment where she was staying with her new boyfriend and arriving at the scene with a plan and a backup plan, Arrisgado said.

Arrisgado said Kotis had hoped to persuade his wife to come home with him, but opted for the backup plan of shooting her after the new boyfriend intervened.

David Bettencourt, Kotis' court-appointed lawyer, described his client as "damaged goods" who had no family of his own and who was trying desperately to hold on to the " 'ohana" that he found in his wife's family.

William Kotis feared that he was not only losing his wife, but his family as well, Bettencourt said, and concluded that he could have no future without them.

He said his client snapped when his wife's new boyfriend tried to keep William Kotis from pulling her away. At that point, Bettencourt said, William Kotis could no longer control his actions and he shot his wife.

At most, Kotis should be convicted of manslaughter, not murder, Bettencourt said.

Frances Loke, Lynn Kotis' sister, told reporters outside the courtroom that her family hopes justice will prevail.

"Nothing can ever replace her," Loke said of her slain sister. "There are times when the pain is unbearable but we have learned to move forward with our lives. But Lynn will always be in our hearts," she said.

Perkins did not indicate how soon he will render a verdict.