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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 2, 2009

'08 murder suspect found unfit for trial

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Sato Sigrah

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Joel Allen

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Clayton Higa

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Three accused murderers appeared in Circuit Court yesterday for hearings on their mental fitness to stand trial.

In one case, Sato Sigrah, 20, was found unfit for trial on charges that he fatally stabbed a McCully woman last year and then used the knife on the victim's husband and 2-year-old daughter.

Circuit Judge Michael Wilson made the ruling based on reports from three mental health experts who examined Sigrah.

At the request of Sigrah's lawyer, Edward Aquino, Wilson ordered the reports sealed from public view. But Wilson ordered Aquino to submit written arguments on why the reports should continue to be confidential.

Sigrah was arrested in the apartment of Lyola Mesebeluu, 27, who died of stab wounds Oct. 11, 2008.

Her husband, Keith Mesebeluu, 26, was awakened during the early-morning attack, wrestled with Sigrah and was stabbed multiple times in the chest, prosecutors have said.

The attack on the Mesebeluu family occurred shortly after 4 a.m. in their apartment at 2222 Kapi'olani Blvd., in lower McCully.

The assailant allegedly entered through an unlocked front door. Neighbors said they heard someone attempting to open a number of doors in the building before the attack.

Sigrah was indicted on charges of second-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and burglary.

In the second case, Joel C. Allen, 64, was found fit to proceed to trial on charges of fatally stabbing Jason Namauu, 35, last year in Makiki beneath the Ke'eaumoku Street overpass.

Wilson turned aside objections from Allen's lawyer that reports from another three-member panel of experts that examined the defendant were legally defective.

Wilson set trial in Allen's case to begin the week of Nov. 2 before Circuit Judge Michael Town.

The final hearing concerned Clayton Higa, 44, awaiting trial on charges that he beat his former girlfriend to death with a hammer in 2006.

Higa was previously found to be unfit for trial and has been confined at Hawai'i State Hospital pending further reviews of his legal status.

Doctors there asked Wilson to extend an order allowing them to involuntarily administer anti-psychotic medications to Higa because of previous instances of "assaultive behavior" at the hospital.

Dr. Alan Taniguchi, a psychiatrist at the hospital, said Higa is "mildly mentally retarded" with an IQ of 62, and suffers from a cognitive disorder as well as epilepsy.

His hospital treatment is aimed at restoring his ability to understand the criminal charges against him and to participate in his legal defense if he does go to trial on the murder charge.

Taniguchi said staff at the hospital want permission to administer the antipsychotic medication Abilify because "when Mr. Higa becomes angry he engages in assaultive behavior" and is a danger to himself and others.

The last such episode was July 23 when Higa became angry because "one of the other patients asked him to move" from where he was sitting in an area called the "home room," Taniguchi said.

After that incident, Higa had to be placed in "waist/wrist restraints," said the doctor.

Wilson approved the medication order but ordered another hearing on the matter in six months.