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Psychologist: Hilo murder defendant is faking mental illness

  • Sean Ivan Matsumoto

    Sean Ivan Matsumoto

HILO >> A Big Island man accused of a double-homicide is faking or exaggerating his mental illness in an attempt to be found unfit for trial, a psychologist testified.

Psychologist Tom Cunningham said he believes Sean Ivan Masa Matsumoto is “malingering,” the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Tuesday.

Matsumoto is charged in the February shooting deaths of his girlfriend, Rhonda Lynn Alohalani Ahu, 45, and her mother, Elaine Ahu, 74, at their Hilo home on Feb. 11.

“He was angry and was not answering all my questions,” Cunningham said of a May 29 jailhouse interview with Matsumoto, whom he described as uncooperative. “He was very cynical about some of the things I was asking about the legal system. He was complaining a lot, saying he was set up. It was just difficult to get through the type of question I would normally ask in this type of examination.”

Deputy Public Defender Jeff Ng said Matsumoto has a long history of mental health treatment and “has symptoms consistent with paranoid psychosis.”

Cunningham said in spite of that, he still believes Matsumoto is malingering. Hawaii Community Correctional Center staff told Cunningham that Matsumoto was “socializing easy” and “not giving the appearance of being seriously mentally ill,” Cunningham said.

While Cunningham and psychiatrist Andrew Bisset find that Matsumoto is fit for trial, psychiatrist Henry Yang has testified previously that Matsumoto suffers from “substance-induced psychotic disorder” that renders him unfit for trial.

Closing arguments in Matsumoto’s mental fitness proceedings are scheduled for Jan. 17.

Matsumoto is being held without bail. 

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