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Murder trial opens for man accused in Oahu rampage

  • Defendant Toby Stangel sits at the defense table during during opening statements in his murder trial. (Craig T. Kojima/ckojima@staradvertiser.com)

    Defendant Toby Stangel sits at the defense table during during opening statements in his murder trial. (Craig T. Kojima/ckojima@staradvertiser.com)

A Honolulu jury heard opening statements this morning in the trial of a man accused of killing a mother of 10, injuring two other motorists and firing at four others, including two police officers, during a 17-minute shooting spree on Oahu roads nearly two years ago.

Toby Stangel, 30, is on trial in state court for second-degree murder, three counts of first-degree attempted murder, four counts of second-degree attempted murder, firearm, drug and drug paraphernalia possession.

Authorities say the rampage started at a Kaimuki intersection, where Tammy Nguyen was shot. The violence continued along the H-1 freeway, leaving two others shot and wounded. Authorities allege Stangel also fired at two police officers.

Stangel’s lawyer John Schum told the jurors that Stangel doesn’t dispute that he did all of the acts that he is accused of doing.

In court Monday, prosecutor Dwight Nadamoto described Nguyen’s 16-year-old daughter seeing her mother’s head jerk back when she was shot in the head while sitting in a van.

Defense attorney John Schum noted: “The facts of this case are not in dispute. But this case is about more than plain and simple facts.”

Schum said the state needs to prove that Stangel intentionally or knowingly killed and attempted to kill anybody. He said nothing in his state of mind connects Stangel’s actions with any intended result.

Neither Schum nor Nadamoto provided the jurors with a motive why Stangel did what he did in the early-morning hours of June 3, 2011.

Stangel was found mentally fit to stand trial based on reports from three mental health experts appointed to examine him. 

In pretrial proceedings Circuit Judge Glenn Kim told Schum that Stangel cannot use the insanity defense if his mental incapacitation is the result of his drug abuse. Kim is also prohibiting testimony from a defense mental health expert who examined Stangel.

The judge last year granted the prosecution’s request to hold Stangel without bail, revoking the $5 million bail he had been held on for more than a year. The defense had asked for Stangel to be released to his father, senior pastor at North Shore Christian Fellowship.

Honolulu police released some audio files of 911 dispatch communications during the shootings after the Honolulu Star-Advertiser sued for their release under state open-records laws. In one recording, an officer is heard saying: “We got a bona fide shooting with a victim involved over here.”

Police can be heard responding to separate incidents across Oahu. In another recording, a male caller reports hearing about six gunshots. 

If convicted, Stangel faces three potential life sentences without the possibility of parole. 

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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