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Tuesday, February 8, 2000

Dana Ireland Trial

Schweitzer’s VW
scrutinized in Ireland
trial testimony

By Rod S. Thompson


HILO -- Soon after Big Island newcomer Dana Ireland was murdered on Christmas Eve, 1991, suspect Albert Ian Schweitzer was seen rebuilding his 1956 Volkswagen, witness Demetrio "Timmy" Gonsalves Jr. testified.

Accident reconstruction expert Kenneth Baker also testified yesterday, saying Ireland was hit while on a bicycle by a car like a Volkswagen.

Schweitzer, 28, is on trial for kidnapping, sexual assault and murder in the death of Ireland.

Gonsalves said he saw Schweitzer and others take off the fenders and hood of Schweitzer's Volkswagen, even cutting something off the front of the car.

It was "right after the incident," he said.

He said he watched from his home across the street from the Schweitzers, wondering why they were doing the work.

"I felt like they did something wrong," he said, but Judge Riki May Amano ordered the comment stricken from the record.

Defense attorney James Biven has attempted to show that many witnesses against Schweitzer may be unreliable because they have criminal records.

Gonsalves admitted he is serving time in an Oklahoma prison.

"At the time, I was a drug dealer, and I'm paying for it now," he said. But he denied getting any kind of deal for testifying.

He also denied having a grudge against Schweitzer, saying only that he didn't get along with Schweitzer's mother because she often called the police about him.

Ohio accident specialist Baker said he examined a van and several pickup trucks to see if they could have caused the damage seen on Ireland's bicycle and the injuries she suffered. The answer was no, he said.

Biven has tried to show that Ireland was hit by a pickup truck, not a Volkswagen beetle.

Baker said only a Volkswagen bumper, among the vehicles police showed him, could have produced the 4-inch-high dent in Ireland's bicycle wheel.

The wheel was hit by a bumper 12 inches off the ground, too low for the other vehicles, he said.

When Baker examined Schweitzer's Volkswagen, the bumper was 13 or 14 inches off the ground, but pre-murder photos show it was lower when Schweitzer bought it.

Baker said the bicycle was run over at probably no more than 20 mph, while Ireland was knocked off to the side.

Ireland suffered no neck or back injuries, suggesting the car that hit her had a sloping front like a Volkswagen, he said.

After running over the bicycle, the car returned and very slowly ran over Ireland, perhaps as slowly as 1 mph, Baker said.

Dana Ireland Archive

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