Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Parents want parole
denied for son’s killer

Associated Press

GREAT FALLS, Mont. >> Parents of a slain U.S. Air Force airman are campaigning for a stiffer sentence for a Hawaii man who was convicted of their son's murder.

Pattie and Charles F. Eskew of Great Falls believe Damien G. Kawai, 19, of the Big Island, should not be eligible for parole for the murder of Airman 1st Class Charles Eskew Jr.

"Damien Kawai has shown absolutely no remorse to us or to his own family." Patti Eskew said. "He is not sorry for what he did."

Kawai was convicted in May of premeditated murder in the strangling of fellow serviceman Eskew last year. He was sentenced to life in prison, but the judge agreed to make him eligible for parole after 20 years.

The Eskews have launched a letter-writing campaign to Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., seeking to have the sentence increased.

A review of the trial and sentence is automatic after a military trial, and J.P. Donovan, a spokesman for Burns, said Eskew's parents hope the letter campaign will affect the review.

"These letters will stay in (Kawai's) file forever," he said. "When he comes up for parole 20 years from now, those letters will still be in his file."

Patti Eskew said her family is convinced Kawai will kill again if released because "he has no regard for human life."

Eskew worked as a jet propulsion specialist at Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa.

Kawai testified that the killing took place after he walked in on Eskew with another man and feared his own homosexuality would be exposed if he didn't silence Eskew.

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