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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 14, 2004

Prostitute's death tied to sexual preferences

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

When a man accused of strangling a Waikiki woman goes on trial next week, his lawyer will claim that the woman was a prostitute who died accidentally while engaged in "asphyxiophilia" — the deliberate restriction of oxygen to the brain to intensify the sexual experience.

In a statement filed in Circuit Court on Wednesday, Myles Breiner, the attorney for murder defendant Donald Marks, said Marks, 40, "adamantly maintains" that Yoko Sanders "death was the tragic result of sexual misadventure."

The statement said that Marks will contend at trial that he and Sanders, 38 were engaged in "consensual bondage practices," including efforts to induce "hypoxia," or oxygen deprivation.

Marks is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the Nov. 2, 2002, slaying.

He had been renting a fifth-floor unit at a private condominium building at 2509 Ala Wai Blvd. for several months. Sanders' body was discovered in a unit on the same floor.

Breiner's trial memorandum said that according to research published in 1990, at least eight people died in Hawai'i during an 11-year period as the result of erotic and/or autoerotic asphyxiophilia.

Breiner said he plans to call Dr. Milton Diamond, a professor of anatomy and reproductive biology at the University of Hawai'i's John A. Burns School of Medicine, as a defense witness to explain asphyxiophilia.

Breiner said he also plans to call Dr. Anthony Manoukian, who is expected to testify that he concluded there were multiple "ligature" or cord or rope restraint marks on Sanders' neck instead of a single ligature mark as listed in the autopsy report on Sanders' death.

The number of ligature marks on the neck is important, according to the trial memorandum, because multiple marks would indicate the coiling of rope around Sanders neck. Multiple coils of rope around Sanders' neck would have made it more difficult to strangle her, according to the memorandum.

The autopsy report on Sanders shows no defensive wounds, no broken finger nails or rope fibers in the fingernails which would indicate that Sanders tried to remove the rope from her neck, according to the trial memorandum.

Despite multiple stab wounds, the autopsy found Sanders died of strangulation. Her head was found in a black plastic bag next to her body.

Breiner's trial memorandum addresses that issue saying her decapitation is "consistent with a state of panic known as necromaniac mutilation, which is a psychological phenomenon recognized in forensic literature."

Reach David Waite at dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8030.