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Guilty verdict in Beverly Hills killing of Japanese filmmaker's son

Scott Barker, 25, is found guilty in the 2010 stabbing death of Katsutoshi 'Tony' Takazato, 21, outside a Beverly Hills estate.

October 03, 2012|By Adolfo Flores, Los Angeles Times

A 25-year-old man has been found guilty of fatally stabbing the son of a Japanese filmmaker in a Beverly Hills carport in 2010, a crime that prosecutors claim was fueled by the belief that the victim had forced the man's girlfriend into prostitution and pornography shoots.

Scott Barker was also convicted Tuesday, after less than a day of deliberations, of two sentencing enhancements: lying in wait and using a knife in the commission of a crime. Barker faces life in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 9.

"I'm really disappointed," said Barker's attorney, Bradley Brunon, moments after the verdict. "To have looked at the evidence, at least 300 pieces, and come back with a verdict in about three hours is just disappointing."

In closing arguments Monday, prosecutors portrayed Barker as a cowardly man who waited in a Beverly Hills carport dressed in a black ninja-like outfit before stabbing Katsutoshi "Tony" Takazato 58 times with a kitchen knife.

"When Tony Takazato walked out in his boxer shorts, barefoot and holding his car keys, Tony didn't have a chance," prosecutor Amy Carter told jurors.

The prosecution said Barker was driven to murder after learning that Chie Coggins Johnson was reconsidering moving with him to Florida and that Takazato was trying to persuade her to do porn shots and engage in prostitution to help pay off his debts. Coggins Johnson, who had earlier dated Takazato and continued to live with him, was Barker's girlfriend at the time.

Takazato, 21, lived in Trousdale Estates, an upscale Beverly Hills neighborhood, in a property owned by his father, Fuminori Hayashida, who produced several low-budget films in the 1990s. Witnesses testified that Takazato had gambling and drug addictions. Coggins Johnson said he owed money to several people.

Brunon told jurors he believed it was one of the people Takazato owed money to who killed him. Brunon said the assailant was probably accompanied by Coggins Johnson.

Coggins Johnson originally faced murder charges but pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon and was given five years of probation in exchange for her testimony.

Brunon depicted her as a liar with a history of drug abuse who would say anything to get out of a tight spot.

"I thought there were so many reasons not to believe her," Brunon said.

Coggins Johnson testified that Barker — dressed in all-black clothing — dragged her out of bed and made her drive him to Takazato's home.

Once there, she said, they scaled a fence and she knocked on his window before speaking to Takazato briefly at his front door. Later as she walked away from the house, she said, she heard two men arguing and saw a shirtless Barker climbing into the car.

They then went to Malibu, where he washed his blood-soaked clothing before hiking down a hillside to dump the clothes and bloodied car mats, Coggins Johnson testified. Authorities later found the items with her help.

Although forensic analysts found traces of Barker's DNA on the clothing, Brunon argued that Coggins Johnson would have had access to Barker's clothing. In addition, he said Barker's DNA was not found at the crime scene and eyewitnesses had described a dark-haired person of Spanish or Middle Eastern descent leaving the crime scene.

After the verdict, Barker's parents declined to comment, but Brunon described them as shocked.

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