A Hilo grand jury indicted an escaped mental patient accused of stabbing his friend to death late last year in Puna.
The indictment returned Wednesday charges 35-year-old David True Seal with second-degree murder. A no-bail bench warrant was approved by Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura. Seal is accused of the slaying of 32-year-old Rory Thompson Wick on Nov. 5 in the Eden Roc subdivision property where both men lived in separate residences.
Police said Wick was stabbed multiple times in the heart and left lung by Seal, who escaped Dec. 3, 2009, from the Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe, Oahu, after scaling a 14-foot-high wire mesh fence. Seal was at large since his escape. He was committed to the mental hospital in April 2002 after being acquitted by reason of insanity for the kidnapping and attempted rape of an 8-year-old girl on Maui.
Wick, a father of three young children, and Seal were friends who knew each other from Hana High School on Maui.
Proceedings in Seal’s case were halted after he requested a panel of three mental health professionals examine him to determine his fitness to proceed. Hilo District Judge Barbara Takase set a hearing for 1:30 p.m. March 25 on those reports.
On Wednesday, Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Lee said Seal will not be arraigned in Hilo Circuit Court until after that hearing. He said the examiners found Seal fit to proceed and attorneys from both sides stipulated to those findings Tuesday in district court.
“It’s my understanding that he (Seal) is on Oahu right now getting treatment for an injury to his hand that allegedly occurred during this incident,” Lee said.
Lee said Seal sustained possible tendon damage.
Seal is in custody at Oahu Community Correctional Center, according to the state Department of Public Safety website.
Seal was hiding on the Big Island for at least a year, possibly longer, and took kendo lessons from the Kobukan Kendo Club at the county’s Waiakea Recreation Center under the alias “Serif Swaim.”
John Akagi, the kendo club’s chief instructor, described Seal as a dedicated student and said he experienced “great shock” when told of Seal’s alleged actions and history.
According to court documents, a witness to the fatal stabbing told police Seal, who the witness knew only as “Serif,” challenged Wick to a duel or knife fight, stating he needed to improve his samurai skills. The witness said Serif went to the dish rack and got two kitchen knives and challenged Wick to fight. He said after Wick told him to “cut it out,” Serif then stabbed Wick in the back.
The witness ran from the home, called police, then hid in some bushes until they arrived, documents state.
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