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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:04 p.m., Friday, May 26, 2006

Kaua'i farmer acquitted of murder

Advertiser Staff

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — A Waimea taro farmer was acquitted of first-degree murder after a Kaua'i judge ruled that he was suffering from a mental disorder when he killed his landlord last year.

Raymond Ard, 41, has been in custody since his arrest the day after the Feb. 27, 2005, attack. He was charged with repeatedly stabbing retired physician Dr. Jon Kerns, 64, and of attempting to murder his own 15-year-old stepson, Richard "Kai" Iwatate.

Family members and neighbors told police Ard was behaving strangely for several days before the attack, making biblical references and talking about evil spirits, according to court documents. Ard also told police that God had spoken to him, telling him that Kerns was "Satan in the flesh."

A nonjury trial was held May 8, with 5th Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe entering her findings and verdict. The judge found that although Ard intentionally caused Kerns' death and intended to kill Iwatate, he was suffering from a mental disorder that substantially impaired his ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to follow the law.

After concluding that Ard presented a risk of danger to himself and others, Watanabe committed him to the custody of the Department of Health to be placed in an appropriate institution for care and treatment.