SLOWLY. Painstakingly. Wrenchingly. That's how Frank Pauline Jr. was found guilty on Friday by a Hilo jury for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Dana Ireland in 1991. It took eight years. Eight tortuous years.
A crime against everyone
The Christmas Eve killing was different from other fatal crimes involving women, at least in the public's mind.
People tend to discount the ones in which 1) a streetwalker on drugs gets snuffed by unsavory characters in the night or 2) a wife or girlfriend is knocked around for one final time by a significant other.
By using some contorted rationalization, the belief is 1) she somehow deserved her fate or 2) it's really none of our business.
The Dana Ireland case was distinctive. A nice young lady who was visiting the area took a leisurely bike ride. She ended up the epitome of every female's worst fear: randomly brutalized, on the street, in the middle of the day.
Not vocalized enough during this almost decade-long ordeal was that this was a hate crime. Against women, for sure.
But also against nonresidents. Does anybody doubt a local girl -- with friends and family in the neighborhood -- would NOT be chased down by punks and run over with a car? Of course not. The culprits would get pounded.
The investigation plodded onward. The confessions came and were retracted. And then, jury selection and trial.
Presiding over this, the first of three trials, was gray-haired Riki May Amano, an incredibly patient and methodical jurist. Hard to believe this same judge was so bored back at the University of Hawaii law school she co-founded the raucous and still-ongoing Ete Bowl football game for female law students.
Big Island prosecutors Charlene Iboshi and Lincoln Ashida gave it their best, knowing that Oahu townies were ready to brand them as not-ready-for-prime-time hicks if they failed.
A long parade of witnesses kept Hawaii mesmerized. One was Dr. Kanthi von Guenthner, Honolulu's first deputy medical examiner.
Despite catching a bad cold on the eve of her scheduled testimony, she flew to the Big Island, didn't charge for her appearance or long hours of prepping, and effectively explained in layman's terms the stomach-wrenching extent of the victim's injuries. Then, with a raging fever, she reboarded a plane to Honolulu and collapsed in her seat.
But the most damaging witness to the defense was the defendant. Not only had he confessed to several people (including journalists), he managed to swear at a family member on the stand and displayed an aggravating in-your-face cockiness while answering questions himself.
Talk about a shining example of self incrimination.
THEN it was up to the six women and six men on the jury. They relistened to tapes, reread their notes, rehashed the arguments. Slowly. Painstakingly. Wrenchingly. And when the court clerk read guilty, guilty, guilty, their job was done.
But only beginning is how people must change their way of looking at this murder -- or at the murder of any woman, for that matter.
As long as we so easily discount the execution of a prostitute as "expected," or shrug off a domestic-abuse fatality as "unpreventable," or characterize the taking of one life as more heinous than another, we'll continue to be appalled at the violence in our midst.
And the blood will spill again. And we'll lament just as loudly. Then wait for justice to crawl.
Dana Ireland Archive
Trial Witness List
Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at
email@example.com, or by fax at 523-7863.