Couple charged with murdering son of Hollywood film producer outside Beverly Hills home

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Couple charged with killing son of film producer

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — A couple was charged with murder Thursday in the fatal stabbing of a movie producer’s son who had dated one of the suspects.

Scott Joseph Barker, 23, and Chie Alexandra Coggins Johnson, 20, were charged with murdering Katsutoshi Takazato, whose body was found Tuesday outside his father’s home in a normally tranquil and exclusive neighborhood where killings are uncommon.

Takazato’s father, Fuminori Hayashida, produced several movies in the 1990s, including “Lured Innocence” starring Dennis Hopper. Hayashida lives in Japan.

Takazato had until recently dated Johnson, who then started dating Barker. She told her new boyfriend that Takazato had physically abused her, prosecutors said, prompting Barker to become enraged and stab Takazato.

Barker’s attorney, Brad Brunon, declined to comment about the relationship between the victim and both suspects. He said the facts about the case were not yet clear.

An after-hours phone message left with Johnson’s attorney, Bruce Ellman, was not immediately returned.

It was not immediately clear how Johnson might have been involved in the incident. Police would not release details of the case.

The couple faces life in prison if convicted. They remained jailed on $3 million bail each, and are scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

Police searched the area for hours after the killing but failed to find an attacker. Detectives worked through the night, scouring Takazato’s Facebook profile and those of his friends to find a possible motive.

Police announced the next day that three people had been arrested. One man was released after investigators determined he had nothing to do with the killing, prosecutors said.

It was only the third murder in Beverly Hills in as many years, and neighbors were shocked by what had happened.

“It is scary,” said Tanya Moftakhar, who grew up on the street and could not recall any other killings. “I would describe it as a very tranquil and secluded area.”

Outside the home where Takazato’s body was found, friends created a makeshift shrine. Flowers, memorial candles and handwritten tributes were placed on a retaining wall, along with photos of Takazato and an origami bird.

A white sheet was hung over the nearby fence with “Rest in Peace Katsutoshi ‘Tony’ Takazato” written in black marker, surrounded by more than 20 tribute notes written by friends. Several smaller candles had been arranged to spell “Tony.”

No one answered an intercom at the gate outside the sprawling, white brick home. Neighbors said a party was being held the night of the stabbing.

Said Hakim, who lives across the street, said Takazato was friendly, and often smiled and greeted his neighbors.

“He was no annoyance to the neighbors, and he had a lot of friends,” Hakim said. “He was a nice guy.”

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