Murder verdict brings closure
By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer
For more than a month, Donald Tominaga sat in a courtroom and listened to the horrific details about his daughter's death.
That she pleaded for her life.
That one of the men involved in the beating swung a tree branch so hard into his daughter's head, he broke the branch.
That one of the men cut her face with a butterfly knife while another wrapped layers of duct tape around her head.
And he heard the man accused of causing his daughter's death admit on the stand that he pressed down on Tracey Tominaga's neck in what were the final moments of her life.
Yesterday, Circuit Judge Karen Ahn accepted the jury's verdict that Jason K. Perry, 24, is guilty of murder for the deaths of Tracey Tominaga, 37, and Edward Fuller, 40, who was shot to death four days after she was killed to keep him from giving police information about her death.
Donald Tominaga said that even before Ahn accepted the verdicts, he approached Perry's family members and told them his family is trying its best to forgive their son.
"If you harbor hatred in your heart, it can only destroy you and your family," he said after he left the courtroom.
Donald Tominaga, 65 and a retired plumber, said his family's Christian values gave them the strength to deal with their daughter's violent death and helped them work toward forgiving Perry. He said that when his family offered their forgiveness to Perry's family, they offered their condolences and apologies to his family.
"Even though we lost our daughter, at least justice has been done," the father said. He said he hopes the tragic end to his daughter's life will help spur "our community the people on this island" to come to grips with a burgeoning methamphetamine problem.
That same concern was echoed by Perry's stepfather, Jeff Tilley, who said over his shoulder as he left the courtroom, "Somebody's gotta get ice out of the streets."
The jury deliberated for about two days before finding Perry guilty as charged on all counts.
City Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Van Marter maintained throughout the trial that Perry had sworn revenge against Tracey Tominaga after she 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 her home on Brokaw Street.
Perry lured her to Makakilo three days later, and once there, killed her, according to the prosecution. Ryan Onuma, a key prosecution witness, said that Perry straddled her, put his hands around her neck and choked her until her body went limp.
But Perry's lawyer, David Bettencourt, contended that Onuma wrapped duct tape so tightly around her head that she suffocated. Bettencourt said Onuma also shot Fuller, went to police and implicated Perry to get a "sweetheart deal" for himself.
Perry testified that he never hit Tracey Tominaga and that he had only intended to scare her into giving him the name of the man who held the shotgun to his face a few days earlier.
One of the jurors, Daniel Gunderson, said he based his decision on Perry's testimony.
"Perry admitted he grabbed her throat that locked it up for me," Gunderson said.
Van Marter said after the hearing that he was happy with the verdicts, but called them "bittersweet."
"I think the verdicts are just and appropriate, but a lot of people were hurt and two people are dead," Van Marter said.