Hawaii Guard soldier accused of killing son, estranged wife’s unborn child found fit for trial

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hawaii soldier found fit to stand trial for murder

HILO, Hawaii — A Hawaii Army National Guard soldier and Iraq war veteran accused of fatally stabbing his 14-year-old son and his estranged wife’s unborn child with a military-issued combat knife was found fit to stand trial for murder.

Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara said Tuesday that two psychiatrists and a psychologist unanimously concluded Tyrone Vesperas is able to understand the proceedings against him and to help his attorney in his defense.

Vesperas is also accused in the alleged attempted murder of his wife, Cheryl Vesperas.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, second-degree murder by omission and possessing a deadly weapon. He faces the charge of murder by omission for allegedly failing to help his wounded son even though he was instructed to do so by a 911 dispatcher.

Vesperas faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment if convicted of murder.

Vesperas admitted to stabbing his son and his nearly full-term wife in the abdomen during a June 2007 domestic dispute, police said.

The son, Tyran Vesperas-Saniatan, attempted to hold back his father so his mother could escape. During the struggle, the teenager was stabbed in the left side of his neck, cutting his jugular vein.

The son was recorded begging a 911 operator for help, sobbing: “My dad stabbed me in my neck. Please, come with police, call the police.”

The boy was found dead by the time police arrived at the home. Cheryl Vesperas fled the house and was met near Keaau by an ambulance. Doctors couldn’t save her unborn child, who was fathered by another man.

At the hearing, Tyrone Vesperas’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Ebesugawa, requested an additional two weeks to try to finalize a plea deal. The judge granted the request and scheduled a May 24 hearing for either a plea change or setting a trial date.

Vesperas is a full-time technician and staff sergeant for the Hawaii Army National Guard. He served with the 29th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq from February 2005 to January 2006.

He has been in custody without bail since his arrest.

Cheryl Vesperas, who attended the hearing, has filed for divorce. She also filed a civil suit against her estranged husband, alleging “severe and permanent injuries, shock, great pain of mind and body, permanent disfigurement and scarring.”

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