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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, August 21, 2004

Xerox killer Uyesugi may fight conviction

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer

Convicted mass murderer Byran Uyesugi says he's not mentally ill and that he wants to challenge his first-degree murder conviction.

Byran Uyesugi

In his first statements under oath about the gunning down of seven fellow Xerox workers in 1999, Uyesugi insisted his co-workers tried to sabotage his work and said he had been haunted by shadowy spirits at his Nu'uanu home and a mysterious poking in his neck.

Uyesugi made those remarks during two days of depositions at the Tallahatchie Correctional facility in Tutwiler, Miss., where he is serving a life term without possibility of parole for committing the state's worst mass murder.

Uyesugi, 44, a Xerox repairman, went to the company's warehouse on Nimitz Highway the morning of Nov. 2, 1999, and fired his 9 mm semiautomatic Glock more than two dozens times, bringing to Hawai'i the horror of mass workplace violence.

While he never testified during his trial in 2000, his attorneys sought an acquittal based on insanity and did not dispute that he killed the men. By all accounts, he was considered mentally ill, suffering from a delusional disorder or schizophrenia. But the key issue was whether he was so insane that he couldn't "appreciate" that what he was doing was wrong.

A Circuit Court jury needed less than two hours of deliberations before convicting him on the murder charge and related counts.

In 2002, the Hawai'i Supreme Court upheld the convictions and life sentence.

Still pending are lawsuits filed by the victims' families against Xerox managers and Castle Medical Center and the Kaiser Foundation Hospital and others who treated Uyesugi. The suits essentially allege the civil defendants didn't do enough to prevent the slayings.

The deposition was taken on Monday and Tuesday to help both sides prepare for the civil trial scheduled for March before Circuit Judge Eden Hifo.

During the two days, Uyesugi appeared to understand the lawyers' questions and talked about a wide range of topics, including his background, his firearms collection, his co-workers, his hobby of raising fish.

But Uyesugi repeatedly invoked the "Fifth Amendment" to questions about the shooting and the day of the shooting. He told the lawyers he planned to file a "Rule 40" motion because he said his trial lawyers didn't adequately represent him. Rule 40 is a reference to a legal challenge a convicted person can file even after the conviction is affirmed on appeal.

Uyesugi said he learned about the motion while housed earlier at the Halawa Correctional Facility by reading a law book after the Hawai'i Supreme Court affirmed his conviction.

Uyesugi said he did not want to answer certain questions because he didn't want his remarks to be used in a new trial.

But Uyesugi also talked about what experts said were clearly delusions. He said one of his co-workers was actually a federal agent and he said he saw shadowy human figures at his home.

Uyesugi told the lawyers he recognized that he was under oath, but said he didn't think his mental disorder would affect his ability to tell the truth because he said he doesn't suffer from a disorder.

It was unclear yesterday how much of what Uyesugi said will be helpful to either side in the the civil case.

Reach Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8030.