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Kabuo Miyamoto, a man of Japanese descent, is the defendant in the murder case of Carl Heine. Alvin Hooks, the prosecutor, is representing Carl Heine in the case, and Nels Gudmundsson is Kabuo's attorney. On September 16, Art Moran, the sheriff, and his deputy, Abel Martinson, saw Carl Heine's boat, the Susan Marie, afloat in the water off the shores of San Pedro Island. Art and Abel went to the boat to check it out, and they couldnt find Carl.
When they reeled in his salmon net, they saw Carl dangling by a hook on his fishing garb with a crushed skull just above the left ear. In the courtroom, Nels cross-examines the sheriffs testimony. He made two points. First, he said that when the sheriff was reeling Carl in, he could have hit his head on something that would have crushed his skull. Next, he made a point that on the night of Carl's death, there was a very thick fog that could have hindered Carl in some way to cause him to go overboard. Ishmael Chambers, a white reporter, questions Art Moran on the murder case.
Art cuts a deal with Ishmael saying if Ishmael reports the death of Carl as an accident, Art will tell him everything he knows about the trial. Art doesnt want the public startled about the trial any further than they already are. The coroner, Horace Whaley, examined Carl. He peeled the skin off the skull and examined the crushed area.
He concluded that a right-handed Japanese man, made a 2 -inch gash with the end of a gun butt, who was trained in kendo (stick fighting). He also concluded that Carl went into the water breathing. Nels cross-examined Horace and pointed out that something flat and small made the wound on Carl's head like parts on the boat. Lastly, he made a point that Carl either had something propelled at his head, or Carl was propelled into something that could have penetrated his skull. Hatsue Miyamoto, Kabuo's wife, visited Carl everyday in jail. Kabuo's son began walking while he was in jail and Mrs.
Naked watches the children for Hatsue. Hatsue is elegant and proper, due to Mrs. Shigermura, her teacher who taught her to be proper as a girl. When Hatsue and Ishmael Chambers were children, they secretly hung out together on the beach shore.
They had a secret hiding place inside a hollow cedar tree. Inside the tree, they did everything from having sex to talking in the tree. Etta Heine, Carl's mom, was on the witness stand telling how Zenhichi Miyamoto, Kabuo's dad, purchased 7 acres from her husband Carl Sr. Zenhichi failed to pay the last two payments primarily because the people of Japanese descent were forced off the island.
When Carl Sr. died, Etta sold all the land to Ole Jurgensen. Kabuo went to Ole and asked him for the 7 acres his family once owned and Old said no. Kabuo then said he would get it someday. When Ole was too old to keep the land, he put it up for sale and Carl Jr. bought it.
Kabuo saw the land for sale and inquired about it. When he learned Carl bought, he became angry and went off to his car. The bombing of Pearl Harbor sparked a hatred for the Japanese people and they were taunted regularly. Men are sent to search Hisaos home for any suspicious material. They find a shotgun, dynamite, and old country belongings. They say they have to arrest him because he owns these illegal arms.
All the Japanese people are shipped off to camps where they are treated inhumanly and are forced to live under harsh conditions. While in camp, Fujioko, Hatsue's mother, reads a letter from Ishmael. She scolds Hatsue and makes her thwart all relations with Ishmael. Ishmael is drafted into the war and is stationed in Begin Island.
He is a radioman and loses all his equipment when he gets off the ship. He digs himself behind a seawall and is ordered to find a squad because his was all shot to death. When the platoon goes over the seawall, Ishmael gets hit in his left biceps, which fractures his bone. His arm is amputated and Ernest Testaverde and Eric Bledsoe, his close friend, die in combat. He realizes how much he hates Japs and writes a letter to Hatsue about how much he hates her, and throws the letter into the ocean. Back in the courtroom, 4 mooring lines are brought in as evidence.
The first line was Kabuo's and was worn and had a bowline in it. The second line was new and had a bowline in it. The third line was Carl's line and had an I knotted in it. The fourth line was old and had a bowline knotted in it. Art says after Kabuo killed Carl, he took off quickly leaving his mooring line behind and went out to get a new one when he realized it was gone. Earlier, Art got a warrant from Judge Fielding to search Kabuo's boat and found a new mooring line on it, and a fishing gaff with blood on the butt end of it...
Dr. Whitman, a hematologist, tested the blood on the fishing gaff and determined it was human blood. He said the blood was B positive and coincidentally, Carl's blood is also B positive. To refute the obvious question if it was Kabuo's blood, he tested Kabuo's and his was O negative.
Nels questioned the doctor and asked why no wood chips, bone particles, or hair was found in his test since the doctor took the sample from the crushed skull. The doctor said he only saw blood. Nels asked if the blood found on the fishing gaff was most likely from Carl's skull, or the cut on his hand. The doctor agreed the palm would be the more likely the source of blood. Many more people come in to testify that Kabuo is capable of such a crime. In particular, Susan Marie goes to the stand to testify.
When asked Carl's response to Kabuo when he asked if he could buy the land from him, she answered hed think about it. Nels points out that Kabuo had no intention to kill Carl because there was a good chance he would get the land. When Ishmael was driving home one day, he sees Hatsue and His with car problems. He gives them a lift and Hatsue tells him that he needs to write in the paper of how her husband is innocent. Ishmael goes up to the lighthouse to see if there have been any storms of this magnitude in San Piedros history. He looks at documents and then searches for something that could help Kabuo's case.
He finds that on the night of September 15, a freighter came through the fishing grounds that Carl was in at 1: 42 and Carl's watch stopped at 1: 47. Hatsue is questioned about the night of Carl's murder. She says Kabuo came home and told her he replaced Carl's battery and he told him he would sell him his 7 acres. Alvin criticized her for not coming forward with this information. Nels brings Josiah Gillanders to the stand to say that no man boards another mans boat for anything but an emergency. Kabuo is finally called to the stand and Alvin asks him why he didnt come forward with this information of being on Carl's boat when he searched his boat.
Kabuo said he was afraid he would get charged for murder if he came forward. Alvin catches Kabuo in a series of lies and asks him if he went anywhere after he found out about Carl's death; Kabuo said no. Alvin asked why then he had two batteries if he helped Carl and lent him a battery. Kabuo says it was a long time ago and he forgot some information like putting in a new battery in his boat.
The case ends and the jury starts deliberating. After a couple of days, Ishmael goes to Hatsue's home and tells about the information he found on the freighter when Carl died. They are all shocked and Hatsue thanks him for the information. Ishmael walks around town with the document to prove Kabuo innocent in his pocket.
He went to Art to see the boat one last time. He inquired about the lantern Carl put up when his battery died. Abel goes up the top to see that the wires had been cut where the later was indicating Carl cut the lantern out when Kabuo gave him a battery. He goes to Judge Fielding with the document and the judge immediately sets Kabuo free and Kabuo walks out a free man. The explanation given of the murder was that Carl lost track of where he was and ended up in the freighters path. While he was fishing, his battery died and having pride, he didnt sound his handy horn.
Instead, he took the risk of waiting for someone to come through. Kabuo sounded his position and Carl called to him. Carl explained the situation and Kabuo tied up to the boat. Carl had a D- 8 well and Kabuo had D- 6 batteries. Carl began to widen the well with the fishing gaff.
His hand slipped and was cut on the hand with the gaff. When Carl finished, he gave the gaff back to Kabuo and talked to him about he land. He then orally sold the land to Kabuo, and Kabuo took off quickly. After Kabuo left, he climbed up to get the lantern down. As he was doing this he was thrown from the top by the swell of the freighter and crushed his head on a pole and went overboard still breathing. The freighter came through at 1: 42, and Carl's watched stopped at 1: 47 as it filled up with water.
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