Murder defendant ruled fit for trial
• Photo gallery: Fauatea Hearing
By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer
Murder defendant Tittleman Fauatea is "a combustible and dangerous person" who should be treated at Hawai'i State Hospital before he is tried on charges that he stabbed to death a Wai'anae schoolteacher last year, his lawyer argued unsuccessfully in court yesterday.
Defense lawyer Dean Young based his argument on testimony from forensic psychologist Martin Blinder, who called Fauatea "an exceedingly dangerous man" who "at any moment could jump out of his chair and throttle you."
Circuit Judge Richard Perkins ruled against Young, citing the reports of two other mental health experts who examined Fauatea and found him fit for trial.
Under questioning from Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Tashima, Blinder acknowledged that he examined Fauatea last year two months before the other experts saw him. Antipsychotic medications may have "kicked in" after the initial interview, Blinder said.
Blinder also said he saw evidence that Fauatea, 25, might be malingering or faking symptoms of illness.
Young told the judge that when he visited Fauatea this week at Halawa Correctional Facility, the defendant was being held in "the hole" because of "violent outbursts."
"Is he at a level where he can sit there (at trial) without interrupting the court or creating a possible danger to myself or others?" Young asked.
"Based on his behavior at Halawa, it doesn't seem like he's there yet."
Fauatea is charged with murdering Asa Yamashita, 43, as she sat on a bench eating a snack near the Supercuts barbershop at Ewa Town Center Feb. 27, 2009.
The knife attack was apparently unprovoked, but one of the other psychologists who examined Fauatea suggested in a report to the court that Fauatea may have been trying to kill another woman who physically resembled Yamashita.
Dr. Stephen E. Gainsley said that Fauatea, who is a paranoid schizophrenic, had twice bothered a female barber at Supercuts who was similar in appearance to Yamashita.
Fauatea "appeared to have developed a preoccupation with the female barber, was rejected by her on several occasions and developed a plan of revenge," Gainsley wrote.
Yamashita's "size and appearance may have caused him to assume that she was the barber, his intended victim," Gainsley wrote.
Perkins said trial in the case could begin as early as March 1.