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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 26, 2006

Murder conviction upheld in '92 shooting in Waikiki

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Hawai'i Supreme Court has upheld the 2002 murder conviction of a 43-year-old man who shot his estranged wife in 1992.

William Kotis was found guilty of emptying a shotgun into his wife, Lynn, 29, in a Waikiki parking lot on Sept. 7, 1992. He was accused of dragging Lynn Kotis out of a car at knifepoint, chasing her and gunning her down with a shotgun after he had cornered her.

The murder of Lynn Kotis drew widespread attention because she had obtained a restraining order and had pleaded for court and police protection from her husband for nearly seven years. William Kotis also had obtained a permit for his weapon despite a 1988 conviction for abusing his wife and a history of mental illness.

Kotis bought the gun two days before he killed his wife.

In a nonjury trial, Circuit Judge Richard Perkins found Kotis guilty of second-degree murder, kidnapping and terroristic threatening. Kotis is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole.

But Kotis appealed the conviction and argued that he was mentally unfit to go to trial. Kotis, who was often disruptive at his trial, maintained that Perkins should have ordered an additional fitness examination because of "bizarre behavior during the course of the trial."

In a unanimous ruling issued yesterday, the Supreme Court denied Kotis' appeal and said Perkins did not abuse his discretion when he deemed Kotis fit for trial. The justices pointed to a panel of medical experts who testified at trial that Kotis was "fabricating his symptoms." The justices also threw out arguments by Kotis that Perkins erred when he denied Kotis' attempt to fire his attorney and represent himself. The court wrote that Kotis' request "was for tactical reasons and not for any good-faith reason other than delay."

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.