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Waipahu man found guilty of arson, terrorizing wife and others

  • LEILA FUJIMORI / LFUJIMORI@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Casey Asato is taken into custody after being found guilty of arson, reckless endangering and multiple counts of terroristic threatening, Thursday, Aug. 11, in Honolulu.

    LEILA FUJIMORI / LFUJIMORI@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Casey Asato is taken into custody after being found guilty of arson, reckless endangering and multiple counts of terroristic threatening, Thursday, Aug. 11, in Honolulu.

An Oahu jury found this morning Casey Y. Asato guilty on all charges of first-degree arson, reckless endangering and multiple counts of terroristic threatening related to the events of Feb. 21, 2019.

Asato was on trial for setting fire to a Kakaako auto body shop where his wife worked and terrorizing her boss, two insurance adjusters, a police officer who shot him outside his Waikele home, and his estranged wife on two prior occasions.

The jury reached a unanimous verdict the day after Wednesday’s closing arguments.

The 41-year-old Waikele man will be sentenced Nov. 22 for first-degree arson, a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

He was also convicted of place to keep a pistol or revolver, punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment, reckless endangering and four counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, each with a maximum of five years in prison, and two counts of second-degree terroristic threatening, which carries a one-year sentence for each count.

Deputy Prosecutor Leigh Okimoto asked that Asato be taken into custody immediately after the verdict was read by the jury foreperson.

Defense attorney Michael Park asked Judge Paul Wong to allow him to remain free on bail until sentencing since he has been law-abiding and had no prior criminal record, but that request was denied.

“The Department is very pleased with this verdict, which will keep Asato behind bars for many years,” said Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm. “I hope that this brings some measure of comfort and safety to Asato’s victims, particularly his ex-wife, and we will be seeking the maximum prison term for him,” he said.

Asato, age 37 at the time of the incident, said he was unaware of the temporary restraining order taken out on him 10 days earlier, was unable to contact his now ex-wife, Danielle Loughlin, or his two young daughters.

He went to his daughter’s preschool, but was told there was paperwork prohibiting him from being at the school.

He confronted Loughlin at Advanced Collision Center nearby, asking where the children were, but got no answers.

He left and returned with a semi-automatic pistol and a bucket of gasoline.

Loughlin had left the auto body shop, and Asato confronted her boss, fired a warning shot into the floor, and then, as Okimoto described, kicked the bucket of gasoline in the reception area and lit it with a lighter and fled.

Loughlin testified she feared for her life and had recorded two of their heated arguments in which he threatened her.

She was granted a TRO Feb. 11, 2019 against him, but only took it to police Feb. 18, 2019, just three days before the fire and the other threats.

“To anyone out there who does not feel safe in a domestic situation, reach out to family and friends for support and visit the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence at www.hscadv.org or call the Domestic Violence Action Center at (808) 531-3771 to get help, and always call 911 in an emergency,” Alm said.

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