BATON ROUGE, La., Sept. 15 -- A judge Thursday awarded $653,000 to the parents of a Japanese exchange student who was shot and killed by a Louisiana homeowner who said he thought the youth was a prowler. State District Judge William Brown awarded $275,000 to each of Yoshi Hattori's parents, $85,000 to the deceased teen and $18,000 for funeral expenses in a civil lawsuit filed by the youth's parents.
Brown rejected a self-defense plea by defendant Rodney Peairs, the meat cutter who shot 16-year-old Hattori Oct. 17, 1992 outside his home. Peairs was acquitted of manslaughter in a 1993 criminal trial. Peairs' insurance will pay $100,000 of the judgment but he will be liable for the remainder of the award. He no longer lives in Baton Rouge. Hattori and an American friend were looking for a Halloween party the night of the shooting. They were wearing costumes when they entered Peairs' property, mistaking his home for the site of the party. Peairs admitted shooting the youth with a .44 Magnum pistol he kept in his house. His wife urged him to 'get the gun' after seeing Hattori in their carport, and stood behind her husband as he shot the boy. Masaichi and Mieko Hattori filed the civil suit in July 1993 against Peairs and his wife, Bonnie, charging them with causing their son's wrongful death. The Hattoris have two other children, and they have been active in campaigning for tighter gun control laws in the United States. They met with U.S. President Bill Clinton last year to give him a petition bearing the signatures of 1.7 million Japanese, asking for tougher gun control laws.