Saturday, February 2, 2002

Arakawa found
drunk in 1992 case

The prosecution says the former
cop should have been aware
of alcohol's effect on him

By Treena Shapiro

Jurors in the Clyde Arakawa manslaughter case heard limited testimony yesterday about a 1992 incident where Arakawa was found lying drunk on the floor of a stranger's house after 3 a.m.

The jury was instructed to use the testimony only to make a decision about Arakawa's state of mind on Oct. 7, 2000, during a collision at the intersection of Pali Highway and School Street that killed 19-year-old Dana Ambrose.

Prosecutors allege that Arakawa, then a police officer, caused the collision by driving after consuming 10 or 11 alcoholic beverages and running a red light. Introducing the 1992 incident was meant to demonstrate that Arakawa was aware of the debilitating effect alcohol has on him, city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle told the jury in opening statements Tuesday.

Detective Jesse Masagatani testified yesterday that on Nov. 30, 1992, at 3:30 a.m., he responded to a trespass call at a Wanaao Street residence. When he arrived he saw his former beat partner Arakawa "walking down the driveway. He had a flushed face. He appeared to be very intoxicated. He was very unsteady on his feet as he walked."

Masagatani said he could smell alcohol emanating from Arakawa from 10 feet away -- not just from his mouth, but from his whole body.

Arakawa needed to be supported that night, Masagatani said.

"He had to rest his arm on my shoulder to steady himself."

Later, when he noticed Arakawa leaning on a guide wire attached to a utility pole, Masagatani led him across the street to lean against his car instead. Arakawa's car was parked on the street, blocking a driveway, with one tire over the curb on the grass median, Masagatani said.

Sgt. Joseph Doughty, who gave Arakawa an Intoxilyzer test that morning, said that Arakawa's blood alcohol content was 0.207. At the time, the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle in Hawaii was 0.1.

Arakawa was given a year's probation, ordered to refrain from alcohol and other substances, and to submit to drug and alcohol testing.

A few hours after taking a field trip to Pearl City to see the wreckage of both cars, jurors also heard detailed testimony about the injuries that led to Ambrose's death.

Deputy Medical Examiner Bani Win testified yesterday afternoon, explaining the extent of the injuries Ambrose sustained in the Oct. 7, 2000, collision.

The 5-foot 3-inch, 105-pound 19-year-old suffered extreme head trauma, multiple contusions, a ruptured spleen, three broken ribs and a compound fracture in her right ankle, but Win said the fatal injuries were fractures in her first and second vertebra, which control heart and respiratory functions.

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