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Man acquitted by insanity in artist’s slaying will remain in mental hospital

A man acquitted by reason of insanity last year for the beating death of an internationally renowned artist will remain in the Hawaii State Hospital on Oahu for at least another year.

Hilo Circuit Judge Peter Kubota said during a videoconference hearing on Friday that he reviewed the report on Michael Cecil Lee by Dr. Edmund Valerio, Lee’s attending psychiatrist, and saw no need for further review.

Kubota scheduled a review hearing for March 4, 2022, and said the state hospital could request a hearing sooner, if needed..

The 56-year-old Lee was acquitted of second-degree murder by Kubota in a bench trial on July 6 last year for the Dec. 4, 2019, beating death of 75-year-old Shingo Honda near the artist’s home in Glenwood.

Honda, who also was a Zen priest, had reportedly attempted to befriend Lee, a homeless man who frequented the area.

Lee, who had been the subject of an all-points bulletin by police, was arrested three days after the incident while walking along Pahoa Village Road during the annual Pahoa Christmas parade.

Court documents state Lee told officers “God” killed Honda.

The so-called “stipulated facts” trial in July lasted less than an hour, and Lee, who was present, chose not to testify.

Kubota ruled the state had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Lee committed all the elements of a second-degree murder with the exception of intent.

The judge also ruled Lee lacked the mental capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions at the time of the offense, and acquitted him by reason of insanity.

In addition, Kubota ruled that Lee poses a danger to the community and committed him to the custody of the state Department of Health, where he remains.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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