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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–No. SCWC-15-0000329

No. SCWC-15-0000329, Thursday, November 21, 2019, 10 a.m.

STATE OF HAWAI I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. YOKO KATO, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorney for petitioner:

Myron H. Takemoto

Attorney for respondent:

Stephen K. Tsushima, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 07/31/19.

COURT: Recktenwald, C.J., Nakayama, McKenna, Pollack, and Wilson, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Yoko Kato was charged with attempted murder in the second degree. At trial, the complaining witness (CW) testified that on October 25, 2013, she was biking to meet a woman named Ai Akanishi, whom she had previously messaged on a social networking application but had never met. The CW stated that she arrived at the address that Akanishi provided at around 9:45 pm, and saw a person, who she thought might be Akanishi’s boyfriend. When the CW asked where she could park her bicycle, the man directed her to a dark corner of the parking lot, where the CW was stabbed multiple times. She ran to a coffee shop and the authorities were called.

The CW testified that she knew Kato and that both of them had a romantic relationship with a man named David Miller at different times. Kato’s roommate testified that she saw Miller and Kato drinking together at Kato’s apartment on the night of the incident at around 7:30 pm. An employee of the convenience store across the street from the scene testified that he saw Kato in the store that evening at around 11:00 pm.

At a pretrial hearing, Miller asserted a Fifth Amendment privilege on all questions regarding alleged past physical abuse of Kato and a pending temporary restraining order she had against him. Miller was later called to testify at trial by the defense. Defense counsel sought to elicit testimony from Miller of a motive to murder the CW, which the circuit court did not allow, because the court found no nexus connecting Miller to the crime. At the conclusion of the evidence, the jury was instructed on the included offense of reckless endangering in the second degree–which Kato was found guilty of.

On appeal, Kato argued that the circuit court erred by precluding her from adducing evidence that Miller had a motive to commit the crime charged and by not compelling him to testify over his assertion of his Fifth Amendment privilege. Kato also contended that there was no basis to instruct the jury on the reckless endangering offense, and that there was not substantial evidence to support the conviction of this offense.

The Intermediate Court of Appeals rejected all of Kato’s contentions and affirmed her conviction. On certiorari review, Kato contends that the ICA erred in all of these rulings.