2nd-degree murder conviction in Honolulu shootings

AP News
Posted: May 16, 2013 10:26 PM
2nd-degree murder conviction in Honolulu shootings

HONOLULU (AP) — A jury on Thursday convicted a Wahiawa man of second-degree murder and other charges in a 2011 shooting rampage through Honolulu that killed a mother of 10 and wounded two other people.

Jurors deliberated for about 13 hours over three days before delivering a verdict in the case of Toby Stangel, 30.

They also found him guilty of two of seven counts of attempted murder. But they found him not guilty of one count of first-degree attempted murder, which would have carried a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto said he was disappointed with that decision.

"We felt the evidence was sufficient for the attempted murders in the first degree," he said.

The jury convicted Stangel of reckless endangering for firing at two police officers, the daughter of the woman who died, and a man who was shot while trying to help a wounded motorist. He was found guilty as charged for second-degree attempted murder of a woman shot in the back while driving and the first man he shot at. It failed to reach a verdict on three drug charges.

Stangel's family, who had been in court throughout the trial, left after the verdict without commenting.

Stangel opened fire at an intersection in the early-morning hours of June 3, 2011, killing 54-year-old Tammy Nguyen of Honolulu, authorities said. He then shot and wounded two more people on a freeway and fired at two police officers who were ticketing racing drivers.

Stangel's sentencing was set for July 31.

Prosecutors asked for a hearing on an extended term in hopes of eventually sending Stangel to prison without the possibility of parole. The jury will return to court on Monday for a hearing on that request.

"It's a very, very sad case," Nadamoto said. "Hopefully it'll send the message (that) you can't go around shooting at people."

Defense attorney John Schum didn't dispute that Stangel committed the shootings. He argued instead that his client lacked the "state of mind" to prove intent, a necessary factor for a conviction of murder or attempted murder.

Schum told jurors during closing arguments that Stangel's actions were more in line with reckless endangerment. Stangel didn't testify at trial.

"The challenge to them was to look at what was in Toby's mind," Schum said after the verdict. "I feel the verdict speaks for itself."

Schum said he doesn't know if Stangel will testify at Monday's hearing. "Toby is a not a danger to the community," he said.

Stangel is remorseful and doesn't want to cause more pain for the victims and their families, Schum said: "He feels horrible for what happened and we pray for them constantly."

Nadamoto argued in his closing that Stangel wasn't merely reckless, but intended to kill when he fired multiple shots.

Police have said the 17-minute shooting rampage started when Stangel got out of his car and walked up to vehicles stopped at an intersection. There, he shot and killed Nguyen, a mother of 10 who was in a minivan with her 16-year-old daughter.

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He then proceeded to the H-1 freeway, where he shot Amie Lou Asuncion in the back, authorities said. Samson Naupoto was shot when he stopped to help Asuncion.

Authorities said Stangel also fired at others, including the two officers, but they were uninjured. None of the victims knew Stangel.

Prosecution witnesses included Asuncion, Naupoto and Tammy Nguyen's daughter Cindy Nguyen, who said she was in the passenger seat of her family's minivan when her mother was shot in the head.

Asuncion recalled running across the freeway after being shot in the back while driving, then hiding in some plants because she feared the shooter was following her. Naupoto testified that he was driving along the freeway when he saw Asuncion running across the lanes. He said he was shot in his right thigh.

Records show Stangel has five misdemeanor convictions dating to 2002, including criminal property damage and operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and one year of probation for criminal property damage in 2006.


Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at http://www.twitter.com/jenhapa .