Suspect in near-fatal attack tells jury that victim drugged and tried to rob him

Michael Hirokawa says after a few sips of wine, he remembered only enough to accuse the victim of attempting to rob him.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 5:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man accused of the near-fatal beating and sexual assault of a woman in November 2020 took the stand in his own defense Thursday, claiming he was actually the victim.

Michael Hirokawa says after a few sips of wine, he remembered only enough to accuse the victim of attempting to rob him.

Prosecutors said the victim was so brutally sexually assaulted and bleeding that after she fled Hirokawa’s apartment, she nearly died.

On Wednesday morning, he told the jury that he went to the bathroom after pouring wine for himself and the woman. He returned and sipped wine and ate potato chips, but has no memory of much after that.

Prosecutor Michelle Puu asked multiple questions about how long it took for Hirokawa to feel the effects of the LSD and Ambien his attorney said were slipped into his wine.

“I don’t know what I don’t remember,” Hirokawa said. “Whether it’s like its immediately or a few minutes after. After the wine I don’t remember that chunk of time.”

Hirokawa and the victim were in his rented apartment at Capitol Place after a night of drinking that began at the bar, where the victim worked and had met Hirokawa for the first time.

Hirokawa said after the wine he claimed he did remember what he called “snapshots,” including her holding his pants containing a pocket of more than $2,000 cash. He also said he had uncontrollable feelings.

Puu asked: “You say that you feel in your snapshot the need to fight for your life?”

“That’s as best as I could describe that feeling,” Hirokawa responded. “I don’t know what it was from its just the feeling i had I was trapped, you know?”

Puu asked how he and the victim ended up naked during such a fight for his life.

Hirokawa denied remembering any sexual activity or assault, but claimed his head was slammed against something hard. “I don’t even know it’s a wall,” he said. “Could have been a flat surface I just see myself hitting a wall.”

Puu seemed to ridicule his story even as she seemed sympathetic.

“Describe it as best as you can,” she said.

“That’s as best as I can,” he responded.

She replied: “That’s all you got?”

Puu questioned why the woman would put her and her family’s immigration status in jeopardy to rob him when there were so many witnesses and surveillance video of them together. “Would you agree that it would have been impossible for her to get away with stealing from you that night?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t agree with that,” Hirokawa responded.

He added that if he woke up with money missing, he would not know for sure she had stolen it.

Hirokawa did agree that he caused the near fatal injuries, but said it was unintentional.

If a unanimous jury convicts Hirokawa of attempted murder, he faces a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday.