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Suspect in murder faking mental illness, 3 experts say

By Nelson Daranciang

LAST UPDATED: 12:14 p.m. HST, Jan 18, 2011

Three court-appointed examiners say a murder defendant has attempted to fake symptoms of mental illness in ways that are so unsophisticated and exaggerated that one of them described it as absurd.

Sato Franklin Sigrah, 21, of Nuuanu is awaiting trial in state Circuit Court on murder charges in the fatal stabbing of 27-year-old Lyola Mesebeluu and the attempted murders of Mesebeluu's husband and 2-year-old daughter on Oct. 11, 2008.

Police said Sigrah tried opening front doors that were locked at a Kapiolani Boulevard apartment building before entering the Mesebeluus' unlocked door, then stabbed Lyola Mesebeluu with a kitchen knife he found in the apartment.

Sigrah told police he does not remember what happened because he blacked out after drinking three beers and at least half of a 1.75-liter bottle of vodka hours earlier when he got off work.

His blood-alcohol content was 0.19 some 2 1/2 hours after the stabbing, more than twice the legal threshold for drunken driving.

He told the court-appointed examiners that a voice told him he was a Japanese Superman and vampire slayer and that he believed Lyola Mesebeluu was a vampire. He later said he could see flying vampires.

"This is so uncharacteristic of delusional thinking that it is clearly absurd," said psychiatrist Gene Altman in his written report to the court.

Sigrah greatly exaggerates "symptoms that an untrained individual would identify as indicative of major mental disorder," as well as subtle signs, "which is often the case with individuals who are feigning mental illness," psychologist Terrance Wade said in his report.

Psychologist Alex Lichton said Sigrah "exaggerated and/or feigned psychiatric symptoms in order to obtain a favorable court outcome."

Based on the examiners' reports, Circuit Judge Edwin Nacino found last month that Sigrah was not suffering from a mental disease, defect or disorder at the time he allegedly committed the stabbing, and scheduled the case for trial. The finding makes it difficult for Sigrah to use the insanity defense.

Sigrah told Lichton he did not know the victims, but learned after the stabbings that he is related to them.

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