Earl Ard acquitted by reason of insanity

The Waimea man accused of murdering a retired doctor and attempting to murder his own stepson was found guilty of first-degree attempted murder, then acquitted by reason of insanity, a Circuit Court judge said yesterday.

Judge Kathleen N.A. Watanabe found Raymond Earl Ard guilty of the felony offense, then placed him in the custody of the state Department of Health.

In her written decision, Watanabe determined that Ard “presents a risk of danger to himself and or others and is not a proper subject for conditional release at this time.”

Ard, 41, was accused of stabbing to death a retired doctor, Jon Kerns, and of attempting to murder his stepson, Richard “Kai” Iwatate, on Feb. 27, 2005, in Waimea.

A one-day bench trial took place May 8 before Judge Watanabe.

Deputy Public Defender John Calma represented Ard.

“I believe the judge came to a just result in this case. I want to assure the public that he’s going to be in custody at the state hospital until he is no longer a danger to society,” said Calma.

Ard was acquitted based on the defense of insanity, said Calma. He said Watanabe found Ard to be a danger to society and to himself, and therefore committed him.

Calma said Ard was suffering auditory and visual delusions at the time the offense took place.

“He believed that his best friend at the time, Dr. Kerns, was part of a conspiracy to kill him,” said Calma.

Calma said Kerns tried to appease Ard, which heightened Ard’s delusions.

“He thought Dr. Kerns was Satan. He believed that Dr. Kerns was trying to possess his stepson, Kai. And that’s why he did what he did.”

Calma said it wasn’t a case of premeditated murder.

“He had irrational behavior, and it reached a point to where he thought Dr. Kerns was part of the conspiracy to kill him,” said Calma.

Calma said that, in general, those who have been committed may ask to be released after 90 days.

The Health Department has to find out, and be confident, that someone asking to be released is no longer a danger to society, said Calma. He added that medication could also be used to bring mental illnesses under control, so that someone released could be a contributing member to society and no longer be a danger to society.

Ard faced one count of first-degree attempted murder, one count of second-degree murder, and one count of second-degree attempted murder.

In her decision, Watanabe found Ard guilty of the first offense, but not guilty of the other two, which are less severe.

If convicted of first-degree attempted murder, Ard could have been sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn said once Watanabe found Ard guilty of the first offense, and because that count dealt with the same victims in the two other counts, the court could not find Ard guilty of the two other less severe counts.

Public Defender Calma said the two less severe counts were part and parcel of the first-degree attempted murder charge.

Under the state’s double jeopardy law, Calma said, Ard could not be found guilty of all the counts, just one.

He was found guilty of the most serious offense, then acquitted, said Calma.

• Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or ckaneshiro@kauaipubco.com.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.