Sec­ond at­tempt to con­sol­i­date cases for brothers ac­cused of mur­der de­nied


West Hawaii Today - - Front Page - BY TIF­FANY DEMASTERS tde­mas­ters@west­hawai­ito­

KEALAKEKUA — A Kona Cir­cuit Court judge on Tues­day de­nied a pros­e­cut­ing at­tor­ney’s sec­ond at­tempt at con­sol­i­dat­ing tri­als of two brothers fac­ing mur­der and con­spir­acy charges.

Mar­lon Mi­randa-Gar­cia and his brother, Eber Mi­randa-Gar­cia ap­peared be­fore Judge Melvin Fu­jino, who de­nied the re­quest dur­ing a lengthy hear­ing that also in­cluded the con­sid­er­a­tion of a num­ber of other mo­tions, in­clud­ing de­ter­min­ing vol­un­tari­ness of Mar­lon Mi­randa- Gar­cia’s state­ments; sup­press­ing Mar­lon Mi­randa- Gar­cia’s state­ments; and con­tin­u­ing trial and pre­trial dead­lines.

The mo­tions were sim­i­lar to those pre­sented dur­ing a hear­ing for Eber Mi­randa- Gar­cia, who ap­peared be­fore Judge Harry P. Fre­itas last week.

The men are charged in the mur­der of Dolores Borja-Valle, also known as Lolo, who was found dead in a Cap­tain Cook cof­fee

field on Aug. 9, 2015.

Af­ter Fu­jino de­nied a re­quest by the de­fense at­tor­neys to have the brothers un­shack­led dur­ing the hear­ing, Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor Sheri Law­son called var­i­ous po­lice of­fi­cers to the stand, in­clud­ing Wal­ter Ah Mow, a for­mer de­tec­tive for Hawaii Po­lice De­part­ment, who was lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor on Lolo’s case; Of­fi­cer Tyler Jelsma, who was as­signed to scene se­cu­rity at Lolo’s home on Aug. 10; De­tec­tive Car­rie Ak­ina, who in­ter­viewed Mar­lon Mi­randa- Gar­cia in Au­gust 2015 at the Kealakehe po­lice sta­tion; and Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Of­fi­cer Reuben Pukahi, who as­sisted in the trans­la­tion dur­ing Ak­ina’s in­ter­view with Mar­lon Mi­randa-Gar­cia.

Ah Mow, who tes­ti­fied dur­ing Eber Mi­ran­daGar­cia’s case last week, again went over the de­tails of the crime — how Lolo was found, when po­lice came into con­tact with the Mi­randa-Gar­cias and how the brothers even­tu­ally were ar­rested and charged.

Ah Mow tes­ti­fied Tues­day that Eber

Mi­randa- Gar­cia’s DNA was found in Lolo’s truck and on the butt of Lolo’s ri­fle, which was found near Lolo’s body. He also said that when he ques­tioned Eber Mi­randa- Gar­cia about Lolo in June, the 27-year-old said he knew noth­ing about Lolo’s death. How­ever, when the de­tec­tive pre­sented ev­i­dence to him, Eber Mi­randa-Gar­cia wished to speak to his wife, Hoohuli, who was ini­tially taken into cus­tody and re­leased pend­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Af­ter that con­ver­sa­tion, Ah Mow said, Eber Mi­randa-Gar­cia con­fessed to killing Lolo be­cause he threat­ened to take his fam­ily away from him.

“He never im­pli­cated Mar­lon,” Ah Mow said. “He said he acted alone.”

Mar­lon Mi­randa-Gar­cia’s at­tor­ney Wendy DeWeese ques­tioned Ah Mow about her client’s in­volve­ment in the case.

“So the only thing that con­nects Mar­lon to this case is cell­phone ev­i­dence?” DeWeese ques­tioned. Ah Mow an­swered that was cor­rect.

“The com­mon ev­i­dence was cell­phone records at the body dump site and truck re­cov­ery site,” Ah Mow said.

She also clar­i­fied with Ah Mow that it was only af­ter they re­ceived a con­fes­sion from Eber Mi­randa-Gar­cia that they be­lieved an­other per­son was in­volved. Ah Mow an­swered yes.

Af­ter Ah Mow stepped down, Law­son again made her case for con­sol­i­dat­ing the tri­als say­ing they are based on ex­tremely sim­i­lar ev­i­dence.

“The is­sue is prej­u­dice,” Law­son said. “No one is point­ing the fin­ger at each other, so where’s the prej­u­dice?”

DeWeese dis­agreed. She listed a num­ber of ways how there is prej­u­dice in the case and how there is ev­i­dence that could clearly be used against Mar­lon Mi­randa-Gar­cia.

“We be­lieve we have shown prej­u­dice and it would be an un­fair trial,” DeWeese said.

Af­ter hear­ing ar­gu­ments, Fu­jino de­nied Law­son’s sec­ond re­quest to con­sol­i­date the cases. At that point, Eber Mi­randa-Gar­cia was dis­missed from the court­room.

Jelsma and Ak­ina then took the stand rel­a­tive to mo­tions to de­ter­mine vol­un­tari­ness of state­ments and to sup­press state­ments made by Mar­lon Mi­randa-Gar­cia.

Jelsma tes­ti­fied about his in­ter­ac­tion with Mar­lon Mi­randa- Gar­cia when the in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan in Au­gust 2015. He told the court he asked the 24-yearold his name and what he was do­ing at the prop­erty. He re­called a lan­guage bar­rier. At the time, Jelsma said, he had no rea­son to be­lieve Mar­lon Mi­randa-Gar­cia was in­volved in Lolo’s death.

Ak­ina told the court about her in­ter­view with Mar­lon Mi­randa- Gar­cia, whom she said came vol­un­tar­ily to the Kealakehe po­lice sta­tion. In her re­port, Ak­ina noted, he seemed ner­vous.

DeWeese asked Ak­ina if she ques­tioned other peo­ple and where she did those in­ter­views. Ak­ina said all of the other in­ter­views were con­ducted in the field.

Law­son clar­i­fied with Ak­ina that Mar­lon Mi­randa-Gar­cia was not a sus­pect at that time.

The last per­son to take the stand was Pukahi, who as­sisted with trans­la­tion dur­ing Ak­ina’s in­ter­view with Mar­lon Mi­randa-Gar­cia. Upon ques­tion­ing by DeWeese, Pukahi con­firmed he had trou­ble trans­lat­ing the con­sent to search form to Mar­lon Mi­randa-Gar­cia and that he had trou­ble com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the man dur­ing the in­ter­view.

“You didn’t lit­er­ally in­ter­pret what the de­tec­tive said and you didn’t lit­er­ally in­ter­pret what Mar­lon said?” DeWeese asked. Pukahi said yes.

Fu­jino will ren­der a de­ci­sion on the mo­tions of vol­un­tari­ness of state­ments and sup­pres­sion of state­ments by Nov. 30.

Also Tues­day, DeWeese also re­quested a con­tin­u­ance of the Dec. 19 trial, which was granted and con­tin­ued to April 17. Last week, trial for Eber Mi­randa-Gar­cia was con­tin­ued to May 8.


Mar­lon Mi­randa-Gar­cia is led out of the court­room on Tues­day.

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