Trial has been set for an escaped mental patient accused of stabbing his friend to death late last year in Puna.
David True Seal on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara ordered him to appear at 8:30 a.m. for a jury trial June 16.
Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Lee estimated the trial would take eight weeks.
The 35-year-old 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.
According to police, 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.
Seal was found fit to stand trial by a panel of three mental health examiners. He was indicted by a Hilo grand jury March 12.
The indictment contained a number of aliases for Seal, including “Serif Swaim,” “John Doe” and “Emperor of the World.”
Seal told the judge Wednesday that David is not his name and he goes by “True Seal.”
Seal was hiding on the Big Island for at least a year, possibly longer, when the fatal assault occurred, and took kendo lessons under the name “Serif Swaim” from the Kobukan Kendo Club at the county’s Waiakea Recreation Center.
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.
Seal is being detained without bail. His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Jeff Ng, asked Hara to set bail.
Lee asked the court to maintain the no-bail status, noting Seal is an escapee from the state mental hospital who was on the lam for four years when arrested.
Hara set a hearing for Lee’s motion to continue detaining Seal without bail for 9:30 a.m. April 17.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.