With a punk-style hairdo, a wisp of facial hair and a usually serious demeanor, Kazuki Hirano didn't look like the kind of guy who could have plunged a knife into someone's leg.
During an interview Tuesday at the county jail, Hirano was thin and drawn in his orange jail jumpsuit as he read from his carefully crafted notes, struggled with the English language and explained that his closest relative, his 65-year-old mother in Japan, is unable to help him.
The 34-year-old ex-laborer from Yokohama, Japan, has been jailed since April 2 for allegedly stabbing Rupert Sheldrake, a British biologist famous for his experiments in mental telepathy.
In telephone conversations, letters and two interviews at the Santa Fe County jail, Hirano has insisted he is a "guinea pig" in Sheldrake's mind-control experiments using "remote mental telepathy."
A plea bargain that would have freed him from jail and allowed him to be deported to Japan was withdrawn Sept. 12 after Sheldrake told the court in a telephone call from London he is afraid if Hirano is released without psychiatric treatment, he will continue to stalk him. Some have compared the case to the 1980 murder of musician John Lennon by his obsessed fan, Mark David Chapman.
State District Judge Michael Vigil ordered Hirano undergo a 60-day psychiatric diagnostic evaluation in Los Lunas. Vigil also set jury selection in a trial on a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon for Oct. 21, with opening arguments to begin in late October or early November.
Sheldrake's lawyer, Steven Farber, said Hirano's court-appointed defense attorney might be gambling the charges will be dismissed because witnesses are unwilling to return to Santa Fe from distant parts of the world to testify. Sheldrake has agreed to return for the trial.
"Rupert's bottom line is, again, not necessarily incarceration or anything like that," Farber said. "He just is concerned about his safety."
In the interview last week, Hirano said his first few days in jail were terrifying until a guard who speaks Japanese explained to him that he was being observed around the clock because he was on a suicide watch.
He had no complaints about his treatment, but said the Japanese interpreters assigned to his case cannot translate simultaneously, and he is confused by the American legal system. A psychiatric counselor in the jail has told him he is neither psychotic nor schizophrenic, he said, but the counselor cannot testify in court and another psychiatrist will have to make a legal diagnosis. Hirano said he is not inclined to see another counselor who might judge him more harshly.
"I can't believe that people (are) saying I am schizophrenic," he said. "They are not even psychiatrists."
Hirano said he became convinced his thoughts were being controlled four or five years ago when he began to feel hypnotized while he was homeless in the Camden Town district of London. He said a man named "Doctor Tony" in London's Stockwell district told him Sheldrake was conducting experiments in mind control on the homeless. Hirano said he didn't believe this at first but came to accept it after reading about Sheldrake on the Internet. He said he now believes the American military is developing remote mental telepathy to combat terrorism.
Hirano said he quit his "labor job" in Yokohama earlier this year and traveled to Santa Fe to attend the 10th International Conference on Science and Consciousness at La Fonda to ask Sheldrake and others there how to block mental telepathy.
"I'm asking him how to stop telepathy remote," he said. "He is kind of lying to me, and he is laughing and kind of smiling like he looks at me stupid and then walks away."
Hirano said others at the conference advised him to try Tai Chi and other Chinese practices that are "spiritual but not very scientific." He said he suspects no one will tell him how to block mental telepathy because they are making money from the experiments.
The degree to which his mind is controlled varies in intensity, Hirano said. When pressed on whether he still thought mental telepathy was being used on him, he said "probably."
Asked if he stabbed Sheldrake, Hirano avoided a straight answer — apparently aware that he should not admit guilt — but insisted he wasn't thinking about stabbing anyone when he carried a hunting knife into the conference.
Sheldrake "is very paranoid and scared of someone to hurt him or kill him or maybe I'm going to do it, but I am not, and I think no one will hurt him," he said.
Hirano said he just wants to go home to Japan. If he is released, he said he will leave Sheldrake alone and begin to investigate on his own how to block mental telepathy. "So I don't go to any (place) Sheldrake is doing something. It's kind of wasting my time. Better to find out what I can ... get a job and finish my problem. I don't want to have a problem with him."
He added that if he can prove Sheldrake "is really doing terrible things and testing the public ... and I can find out how to block it, I'll put on the Internet."
Contact Tom Sharpe at 986-3080 or firstname.lastname@example.org.