Feared Japanese Teen-Ager, Slaying Suspect Says

<i> from Associated Press</i>

The man on trial for killing a Japanese exchange student gave his account Saturday, saying tearfully that his wife was terrified, he felt threatened and he “felt I had no other choice.”

Rodney Peairs, 31, is charged with manslaughter in the death of 16-year-old Yoshi Hattori, who knocked on Peairs’ door while looking for a Halloween party Oct. 17. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.

Peairs said he hollered “Freeze,” but the teen-ager apparently did not understand.

“I was scared to death that this person was not going to stop. He was going to do harm to me,” Peairs said.


“Why’d you shoot?” asked his attorney, Lewis Unglesby.

“Fear of my life and my family’s life. Protection of my family. I felt I had no other choice,” he replied.

The prosecution rested its case Friday after Deputy Douglas Flitter, who took Peairs into custody, testified that Peairs told him: “Boy, I messed up; I made a mistake.”

Peairs said that at the time of the shooting he had come home from work and was watching television.


The bell rang, and he said he thought it was the television. It rang again, and his wife, Bonnie, opened the door and then quickly slammed it shut.

“She was terrified, she was hollering for me to get the gun,” he said.

“Had your wife ever shown that kind of emotion?” Unglesby asked.

“No, sir. I’ve never seen her react like that.”


Peairs said he got his .44-caliber Magnum revolver, the most accessible gun at the time. He also owns a rifle, a double-barreled shotgun and a two pellet guns.

At first, he said he saw nothing. But then something caught his eye, “a person . . . moving real fast. He appeared to be laughing, high on something, maybe.”

“In that three seconds, Mr. Peairs, did you have any idea that this was a boy going to some party down the street?”

“No sir, I did not.”