After hearing two women testify about an evening that began with Raymond Oscar Butler consuming two bottles of wine and Kool-Aid and ended in the execution-style murders of two college students in March, a Municipal Court magistrate Tuesday bound Butler over to Superior Court for trial.
Judge James L. Wright, ruling that there was sufficient cause to find Butler, 19, guilty of the double murders, scheduled arraignment for July 27 in Long Beach Superior Court.
The two witnesses, one of them Butler's sister-in-law, testified in a preliminary hearing that they had spent the evening of March 25 with Butler, cruising the streets of San Pedro in a van. Both said he was in the supermarket parking lot where Takuma Ito and Go Matsuura were killed that evening.
A third witness testified that, while sitting in the back seat of her husband's car, she had seen Butler confront one of the victims, saying, "Don't make me hurt you. I have a gun."
Kristen Kielniarz said she then heard gunshots, though she could not see the shooting. She said she was "100% certain" that Butler was the assailant.
Butler is charged with two counts of murder with the special circumstance of murder committed during robbery. He could face the death penalty if convicted. He also faces robbery and carjacking charges.
The murders have created shock waves in Japan, the home of the two victims, who were students at Marymount College. Japanese newspapers and television networks covered Tuesday's proceedings, as they had on Monday, and two representatives of the Japanese Consulate were present in the courtroom to monitor the case.
Kelli Waquan, married to Butler's half-brother, Tony Waquan, said that a group of four, including Butler and two other women, had stopped several times to buy Thunderbird wine and packs of Kool-Aid that evening as they drove around. Butler mixed the Kool-Aid with the wine and drank it, she said.
Waquan, 27, said that, late in the evening, she had pulled her van into the parking lot of a Ralphs supermarket in San Pedro to buy more liquor, when Butler got out and began a conversation with Takuma Ito and Go Matsuura, who had parked nearby.
Butler, holding a bottle of wine, inquired about Ito's Honda Civic, asking whether it had a stick shift.
"The next thing I knew, the Thunderbird (wine) was on top of the car and he had him (Ito) down on the ground," Waquan said.
As Butler got into the rear seat and forced Ito into the driver's seat, Waquan said, she drove the van out of the parking lot. "I said, 'I don't want any part of this, we're out of here,' " Waquan said.
As she left the parking lot, she said, she heard gunshots.
Matsuura and Ito, both 19, were each killed with a single gunshot to the back of the head.
Irene Ruiz, 15, said that she had been lying in the rear of the van, having consumed a 40-ounce bottle of beer and a codeine pill earlier in the evening.
"I heard commotion and talking (outside the van)," she said. "A couple of moments later, I heard gunshots, and Kelli said, 'My God, I can't believe he did that.' "
Deputy Dist. Atty. Janet Moore would not comment on a report that Butler had confessed after being arrested in March. She said only that he had made a statement.
"To comment on the contents (of the statement) would be inappropriate at this time," she said.