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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Man says 'it's possible' he killed

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

A man accused of strangling a 37-year-old Kapahulu woman last year in the mountains above Makakilo acknowledged in court yesterday that he pressed down on the woman's throat minutes before she died.

Jason Perry said he doesn't know whether he killed a Kapahulu woman last year.
But Jason Perry, 24, stopped short of admitting that he killed Tracey Tominaga on Jan. 21, 2002, three days after Tominaga and a friend robbed him at gunpoint of crystal methamphetamine and about $200 in cash.

Asked directly if he killed Tominaga, Perry said, "I don't know. It's possible. I don't know."

Perry insisted during more than two hours on the witness stand that he never intended to kill Tominaga, but said he feels "morally responsible" for what happened to her the afternoon she was beaten by several men and killed at a cabin in the remote Palehua area above Makakilo.

Perry said he knelt down next to Tominaga as she was suffocating, put his right hand on her neck, and pressed down. He said he could not explain his reasons for doing so, but that he was intent on making Tominaga reveal the name of the man who had held a shotgun to his head three days earlier when crystal meth and money were stolen from him at Tominaga's house on Brokaw Street in Kapahulu.

Perry said Ryan Onuma, his former partner in a crystal meth distribution ring, wrapped duct tape around Tominaga's head, causing her to suffocate. He said Onuma hit Tominaga in the stomach several times with the back of a shovel and that Tominaga appeared to die immediately after the shovel blows.

Onuma, the lead prosecution witness against Perry, testified earlier in the trial that Perry wrapped his hands around Tominaga's neck and squeezed it for several minutes until Tominaga went limp.

Onuma also testified that Perry killed a man named Eddie Fuller five days later on Jack Lane in Nu'uanu, to keep Fuller from telling police that Perry had killed Tominaga.

During his testimony yesterday, Perry said he was sleeping in the front passenger seat of Onuma's car the evening Fuller was shot. Perry said he was awakened by a gunshot, turned and saw Onuma fire several more shots into Fuller.

Perry was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Tominaga and Fuller.

Perry's lawyer, David Bettencourt, said during his opening statement that evidence presented during the trial would show that Onuma became increasingly concerned that he would be blamed for killing Tominaga and Fuller and that Onuma went to police April 2 to work out "a sweetheart deal" for himself.

City Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Van Marter has suggested that Onuma was afraid Perry was going to kill him to prevent him from going to authorities with information about the deaths of Tominaga and Fuller.

The case is expected to go to the jury today after Van Marter and Bettencourt present their closing arguments.