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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 23, 2003

Man guilty in double murder

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

A Circuit Court jury yesterday found a 24-year-old Kailua man guilty of strangling a Kapahulu woman last year and fatally shooting a Honolulu man four days later to keep him from going to police with information about the first incident.

The jury also found Jason K. Perry guilty of conspiring with others to kidnap Tracey Tominaga and to take her to a remote area in the mountains above Makakilo where she was killed.

But Circuit Court Judge Karen Ahn did not formally accept the jury's verdicts and ordered the seven men and five women to return to court this morning.

In the rare double murder trial, Perry was tried on charges of murdering Tominaga in January 2002 and later Edward Fuller in Nu'uanu.

Perry stood at the defense table, his hands clasped in front of him, wearing a blue short-sleeve shirt, khaki pants and white athletic shoes as the guilty verdicts were read. He showed no reaction. His mother and stepmother dabbed their eyes as the verdicts were read as did Tominaga's mother and a few other family members who were seated on the opposite side of the courtroom.

Ahn gave no public explanation for her highly unusual order and minutes later denied a request by Perry's lawyer, David Bettencourt, who asked that the jury foreperson be "detained and interrogated."

Ahn instructed the jurors not to talk to anyone about the verdicts and sent them home for the night.

While it is not clear why the jury was ordered back to court, the jury foreperson told Ahn that she had mistakenly circled "No" instead of "Yes" in response to one of many questions on the verdict form.

The foreperson said she drew a line through the incorrect response, circled the correct response and initialed the area that she had crossed out. But she did not inform the other jurors of the clerical error, the foreperson said.

Jury members appeared to be confused by the rather complicated jury instructions and had asked that the instructions be re-read to them at about 1:30 yesterday afternoon. They reached the guilty verdict about two hours later.

When jurors were polled individually about whether Perry was guilty or not guilty on each of the three overall counts against him, there did not appear to be any confusion. But some jurors seemed less certain about their individual responses to the dozen or so "interrogatories" or questions that the jury had to answer as part of the verdict form.

The jury deliberated for about two days before finding Perry guilty as charged on all counts.

City Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Van Marter claimed throughout the trial that Perry had sworn revenge against Tominaga after Tominaga and a male acquaintance, Kaimi Seu, stuck a shotgun in Perry's face and took crystal methamphetamine and cash from him Jan. 18, 2002, at Tominaga's home on Brokaw Street.

Van Marter argued that Perry lured Tominaga to go with him to Makakilo three days later, and once there, killed her. Ryan Onuma, a key prosecution witness, claimed that Perry straddled Tominaga, put his hands around her neck and choked her until her body went limp.

But Bettencourt contended that Onuma wrapped duct tape so tightly around Tominaga's head that she suffocated and that Onuma went to police and implicated Perry in order to get a "sweetheart deal" for himself.

When Perry took the stand in his own defense last week, he said he never hit Tominaga and that he had only intended to scare Tominaga into giving him the name of the man who held the shotgun to his face a few days earlier.

The prosecution maintained that Perry was responsible for both murders.