Chad DeSoto's defense team presents closing arguments - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Chad DeSoto's defense team presents closing arguments

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 by Krystal Paco

Guam - On Wednesday we heard from prosecution. Today, we hear from the defense. The Chad DeSoto trial nears end with closing arguments completed this morning.

The prosecution argues it was all an act, but according to defense attorney Eric Miller, DeSoto was in fact crazy when he rampaged through Tumon last year.

"This case is about mental illness. And that's what we talked about. We discussed that mental illness Is like any other illness. It's like breast cancer, TBb, it's like measles. You don't choose to get it. You didn't do something wrong to get mental illness," he argued.

DeSoto has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness. He's charged with three counts of aggravated murder and eleven counts of attempted aggravated murder. Back in February 2013, DeSoto drove his car down a crowded Tumon sidewalk before crashing it into the ABC Store, darting out, and stabbing people at random. Three Japanese tourists were killed and several others injured as a result.

Miller reminded jurors that although their conclusions varied, all three psychiatrists who testified as expert witnesses in the trial diagnosed DeSoto with mental illness.

"All three experts agree on one thing. Chad DeSoto has mental illness. We take this as a fact. Dr. Kim, Dr. Fukitaki, and Dr. Blinder say he suffered from a mental illness - two of the three found the defendant not legally responsible for acts," he said. "The evidence in this case boils down to the three experts."

The first psychiatrist to interview DeSoto was Dr. Michael Kim. Kim testified that DeSoto was sane at the time of the crime. Kim, however, had only three years of experience at the time of his evaluation.

The second to interview DeSoto was forensic psychiatrist Dr. Karen Fukitaki. Fukitaki concluded DeSoto did not understand what he was doing at the time of the crime. Fukitaki, as miller noted, has 25 years of experience in the field.

Last to interview DeSoto was forensic psychiatrist Dr. Martin Blinder. Blinder concluded DeSoto's case was one of the most severe depressions he's ever seen in his 40 years of practice. He testified "he's crazy" noting DeSoto's psychotic depression affected his clarity of thinking so he couldn't understand or appreciate the nature of his acts.

In his final words to jurors, Miller made one request.

"I'm going to ask you to deliberate this case with courage and integrity you're going to have to be brave to sort this out. I need to follow the instructions, not your emotions," he said.

In the prosecution's rebuttal, Assistant Attorney General Gerald Henderson asked that jurors not be fooled by DeSoto's storytelling. Henderson noted DeSoto kept rewriting the script evident in the variations of stories DeSoto told friends, family, and expert witnesses. In one version, DeSoto played the villain, the second in which he's the victim, and the third as the hero who wins the girl, similar to Hollywood blockbusters.

"He has the delusion that you're going to believe the hero story. He has the delusion he can do all of this and be found not guilty. Killing three people doesn't mean you're crazy. It means you're a criminal. We ask that you find him guilty on all three counts of aggravated murder and eleven counts of attempted aggravated murder," he said.

It's now up to the jury to decide whether DeSoto is guilty, not guilty, or not guilty by reason of insanity.

If convicted, DeSoto faces life behind bars without possibility of parole.

If found not guilty, DeSoto will be acquitted of all charges and released.

If found not guilty by reason of insanity, the court will determine if DeSoto presently suffers from mental illness and whether he continues to pose a threat to himself or others. Depending on this evaluation, DeSoto could be released on conditions that include he receive proper care, supervision and treatment, or he be committed to the administrator of the Guam Memorial Hospital for custody, care, and treatment.
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