- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) - A man sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing three Japanese tourists in a crash and stabbing rampage in Guam has apologized for his actions and is asking a judge for mercy.

Guam Superior Court Judge Anita Sukola heard closing arguments Monday in a hearing on 24-year-old Chad De Soto’s request to lower his conviction from aggravated murder to murder. The reduced conviction could make him eligible for release after 15 years, The Pacific Daily News reported (https://bit.ly/2dTJm44).

De Soto drove his car through a group of pedestrians in Tumon in February 2013, striking Hitoshi Yokota, 51, who died at a hospital two days later. De Soto then got out of the vehicle and stabbed to death Kazuko Uehara, 81, and Rie Sugiyama, 29. DeSoto was also convicted of injuring 11 others in the attack.

He read a written statement in court directed to the victims, their families and the people of Guam.

“I hope that this apology may also be the start of healing for those who need it, as it is something you all automatically and without question deserve as well,” De Soto said. “Your honor, with my heart enormously humble, I beg you for your understanding and mercy.”

De Soto said he was sorry for the pain and tragedy he caused and asked the court not to base his life solely on night of Feb. 12, 2013.

“The AG’s office, the community, the entire world has zoomed into a single day in my life, hyper analyzed it and have judged me immensely for it,” De Soto read from his statement. “But that is not the only day I have lived.”

Prosecutors oppose leniency for De Soto, saying he should be needs to be held accountable for his actions.

“Did you feel mercy when you crushed Hitoshi Yokota with your car?” Chief Prosecutor Phillip Tydingco asked De Soto. “Did you feel mercy when you stabbed to death Kazuko Uehara? Did you feel mercy when you stabbed to death Rie (Sugiyama). the mother and grandmother trying to save their babies from you slashing them?”

Jocelyn Roden, De Soto’s attorney, also asked Sukola to consider her client’s mental illness and take into account that he had no previous criminal record.

The judge has 90 days to decide on De Soto’s request for a reduced conviction.

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