A former Austin bar owner took the witness stand at his felony assault trial Wednesday and said the jury should hold him responsible for an incident in which he showed up to a local DJ’s home last year and attacked him with a samurai sword and a dagger.
But the jury did not agree — at least not yet.
After deliberating for more than two hours, jurors went home for the night without reaching a verdict in the trial of Shusaku Shiroyama, who said he was suffering from a manic episode when he concealed his face with a bandana and stabbed his former friend and business associate Miguel Torres on Friday the 13th in January 2017.
Torres, who goes by the stage name “ulovei,” survived the attack with multiple cuts to his hands, face and back, and received 46 stitches. He testified that he recognized Shiroyama from his voice and by his face when the bandana slid off during the attack.
Shiroyama, who also goes by the name Charlie Valentine, faces a first-degree felony charge of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit aggravated assault as well as two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. One is for attacking Torres, and the other is for allegedly chasing a man who had stopped by Torres’ apartment during the attack. That man, Kirkland Audain, said he fled the apartment on East 14th Street when Shiroyama threatened to kill him.
Shiroyama testified that he could not remember if he tried to attack Audain and called him “inconsequential” to the incident.
The jury will return to the courthouse at 8 a.m. Thursday to continue deliberating.
The case was never a whodunit, as Shiroyama and his lawyers said in open court he was the person who inflicted the injuries on Torres. But they called on the jury to be merciful because he was acting in defense of a woman he was dating. Shiroyama, they told the jury, was angered after the woman told him Torres had beaten her over multiple occasions during their romantic relationship. Days before Shiroyama attacked Torres, the woman had left Torres and moved in with Shiroyama.
In closing arguments, Shiroyama’s lawyer, Matthew Shrum, said his client’s actions were the lesser of two evils and asked the jury to disregard the law.
“I would submit a dude that cuts someone is less of a dog than a man that repeatedly injures, berates and harms a defenseless woman,” Shrum said.
Torres testified Tuesday that he had never hit the woman.
Shiroyama, 32, who is an ex-owner of the defunct bar Moloko, was the only witness to testify Wednesday for the defense. He said he rode his bike to Torres’ apartment on the night of the incident and dropped off a sword in a bush before riding off to a bar. He returned a short time later, retrieved the blade and stormed into Torres’ third-floor unit. Torres stopped the attack by grabbing the dull sword with both hands. Shiroyama then pulled out a dagger and stabbed Torres in the back. The incident ended when Audain entered the home.
Shiroyama said he was suffering from delusions and later was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“When you’re in that mental state you don’t think about consequences,” he told the jury. “You don’t have the ability to check yourself.”
The assault was motivated by his abhorrence for violence against women, he said.
“I can’t not do anything about it. I’d probably do that with anyone. … I lost control. It was emotional blackout, but at the same time feeling everything,” Shiroyama said.
Prosecutor Andrea Austin argued that mental health should not be considered in the trial’s guilt-innocence phase and is relevant only for punishment purposes.
“This was a well-planned, deliberate choice,” she said.
If convicted, Shiroyama faces up to 99 years in prison, but would be eligible for probation because he does not have any convictions for felony offenses.