GUILTY: verdict reached in Chad DeSoto trial - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GUILTY: verdict reached in Chad DeSoto trial

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - After two weeks in deliberations, the ten females and two males empanelled in the Chad DeSoto trial returned with a guilty verdict this afternoon.   

"We the jury in the above entitled case find the defendant Chad Ryan DeSoto guilty," the foreman read.

In total, DeSoto faces at maximum fourteen life sentences for the aggravated murder of three Japanese tourists and the attempted aggravated murder of eleven others.

DeSoto maintained a not guilty by reason of insanity plea for his rampage through Tumon last year where he drove his car down a crowded sidewalk before crashing into the ABC Store, darting out of his car, and stabbing people at random.

Among the over 50 witnesses called to testify were three psychiatrists as expert witnesses.

Although their overall conclusions of DeSoto varied, all diagnosed the defendant with a mental illness. Specifically, two of the three expert witnesses found the defendant not legally responsible for his acts.

Today, however, before DeSoto's mother, father, girlfriend, and a packed courtroom, jurors returned a verdict holding DeSoto responsible for the crime.

Later this afternoon, Chief Deputy Attorney General Phil Tydingco thanked jurors for their work as they reviewed over a hundred exhibits and sat through a lengthy, high-profile murder trial. He also commended the victims and witnesses themselves. After all, it was their storytelling that brought the crime scene back to life.

He said, "We thank them for their service. It was a lot of evidence to go through. But most importantly I do want to thank the witnesses and the victims that did testify in this case. In many ways, it re-traumatized even the witnesses, who were eyewitnesses in the crime, so I want to thank them for their courage to relive this nightmare in court, but it was highly important. I hope, we all hope, that it brings them a little closure to this terrible tragedy that this defendant committed upon them."

But it's not over for victims and witnesses as Tydingco says that law allows them to participate in DeSoto's sentencing hearing slated for next month. They can testify the day of the sentencing, they may submit a victim's impact statement, and they can also Skype in testimony.

Looking ahead, Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas says this case brings to light the need to address longterm mental healthcare locally. Had jurors returned a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict, it's unclear where DeSoto could be treated here on Guam.

"Guam is a little different in that sense where we don't really have facilities like that long term facility," he said. "This is something that I think the legislature and the administration should look at down the road."

We should note, the law allows DeSoto to file an appeal with the Supreme Court. Although Assistant Public Defender Jocelyn Roden wouldn't disclose whether they'd pursue an appeal, she provided media with only a brief comment following the reading of the verdict.

"I am just thankful that the jurors hung in there and that they made a thorough deliberation and I still have my faith in the justice system," she noted.

Sentencing set for September 25. We should note, although the verdict has been handed down, DeSoto, his cousin Michelle Fatovic, and his girlfriend Reanne Acasio face contempt of court charges. As we previously reported, PayTel records show that DeSoto spoke with the two women via telephone despite being told by the court not to because both were called to the stand to testify in the trial.
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