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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 26, 2010

Hawaii man who stabbed hikers acquitted by reason of insanity

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Guy Tanaka stepped across in court to offer a handshake to Benjamin Davis, the man who stabbed him when he was hiking Koko Crater.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Amata Henry, second from left, the mother of attacker Benjamin Davis, offered a tearful apology to stabbing victim Nicholas Iwamoto, right, and his mother.

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The man who savagely attacked two hikers on Koko Crater last year was acquitted of attempted murder yesterday by reason of insanity and will be locked up, perhaps for the rest of his life, at the Hawai'i State Hospital.

The prosecution and defense agreed to that outcome of the case after mental health experts who examined Benjamin Davis, 20, concluded that he is a schizophrenic who lacked the ability to understand or control his actions when he attacked hikers Nicholas Iwamoto and Guy Tanaka Feb. 1, 2007.

The brief trial, which lasted slightly more than an hour before Circuit Judge Michael Town, was taken up mostly by testimony from one of Davis' victims, Iwamoto, 24.

Iwamoto was stabbed 18 times by Davis and then pushed off the rim of the crater, falling 30 feet and then rolling another 70 feet to the base of a ravine.

He was hospitalized for more than a month.

His injuries included a broken neck, fractured skull, broken ankle, lacerated liver and diaphragm, collapsed lung and stab wounds to his chest, abdomen, jugular vein and temporal artery.

Iwamoto said he has undergone eight surgeries and is in constant pain.

"I know it's a miracle that I'm still here," he told Davis in court.

Tanaka, a visitor from California, was stabbed in the back.

Police have said the attack was unprovoked, and Davis' friends said they were mystified by his alleged actions.

Police found Davis naked in a tree after they had been searching the area for several hours.

Tanaka had testified that he was at the top of the scenic trail talking to his wife on a cell phone when Davis approached him from behind and said, "You need to end the phone call right now."

Tanaka said he ran when he saw a knife in Davis' hand. He said he jumped down to the trail, then felt an impact on his back.

Tanaka said he didn't realize he had been stabbed until he encountered two hikers coming up the trail and warned them about a man with a knife.