“I’ve had to sit there and listen to rie after rie”
Stephen Sakai was born in 1975 with the surname Sanders and grew up in Southeast Queens. Tall and well built, Sakai worked as a bouncer at Sunset Park strip bar Sweet Cherry and Opus 22 Café and Lounge at 559 West 22nd Street, New York.
In September 2005 he stabbed to death his ex-friend Wayne Tyson who was 56 and partially disabled. Two months later he shot fellow bouncer Edwin Mojica in the back of the head as he was putting the key in the door of his Williamsburg home. The two men had been feuding.
Sakai was also annoyed with another bouncer, Irving Matos, and he was reported to have shot him in the back of the head as he sat on a settee. On 23 May 2006 he was on duty outside Opus 22 — famous for its Opus Bellini made with white peach purée and champagne — when violence erupted.
When a drunken Gustavo Cuadros refused to leave Sakai began an argument with the man and then shot him once in the chest with a .45-calibre handgun. The 28-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. Sakai then shot Julian Cuadros, who was paralyzed from the neck down, and Jaison Correa as he ran away. Ian Davis was shot in the groin by Sakai.
559 West 22nd Street, New York City, USA
September 2005—Tuesday 23 May 2006
Sakai’s trial for the murders of Tyson, Mojica and Matos was one of the most bizarre in American jurisprudence. Despite being a black, native New Yorker he spoke at his trial in Brooklyn with an exaggerated fake Japanese accent — “Rest name, Sakai,” he told the clerk of the court — and claimed to have regularly flown to the Far East for martial-arts tournaments despite never having had a passport. He also claimed to have been set up by a bent policeman.
“Wayne Tyson was a good person. He was a friend of mine. He supported me when I needed him most. Iry Matos did the same. He referred to me as his rittle brother. These two people didn’t die because there was someone running around killing. These two people died because they supported me, collecting evidence against a dirty cop, Christopher Bresrin [Breslin]. During this trial, I’ve had to sit there and listen to rie after rie.”
He also claimed the police had force-fed him poison, then injected drugs into his neck before forcing him to confess to the three killings. On 6 December 2007 Sakai was found guilty of two murders but cleared of the Matos murder because the jury didn’t believe witness Daniel (Diggim) Fishback. On 2 January 2008 he was sentenced to 50 years to life. On 15 December 2008 he was sentenced to 90 years to life for the murder of Gustavo Cuadros and wounding his friends.