Friday, August 22, 2003

Man says
rights violated

A suspect in Kahealani Indreginal's
death says his rights were not read

The defense attorney for a man accused of the murder of 11-year-old Kahealani Indreginal in December says statements he gave to police should be thrown out because he was not advised of his constitutional rights.

Christopher Clayburn Aki, 20, is charged with second-degree murder for either causing the girl's death or failing to obtain timely medical care. He has pleaded not guilty and is set to go to trial March 1.

Todd Eddins, deputy public defender for Aki, asked a police detective yesterday why his client was not read his rights prior to nearly an hour of questioning on Dec. 13.

In court documents, Eddins noted that the questioning by three detectives was "far from brief and casual" and was "coercive and accusatory."

"Aki was even asked point blank whether he had harmed Kahealani," Eddins wrote.

Although police read Aki his rights prior to subsequent interviews, Eddins said the earlier statement and any subsequent statements are "tainted" and should not be admissible at trial.

Homicide Detective Sheryl Sunia testified Aki was not considered a suspect at the time of his first interview because they had no evidence that foul play or a crime had been committed.

Sunia testified yesterday that after interviewing Aki the morning of Dec. 13, she received information that a couple who were friends with Aki had seen him across the street from the Puuwai Momi housing project where Kahealani lived within an hour of the time the girl was last seen and that he had told them he was on his way to pick up Kahealani. (Aki is the boyfriend and fiance of Kahealani's half sister, with whom he has a son.) Sunia was also informed that Kahealani's body had been found.

Aki was contacted and interviewed again that evening, at which time he was read his rights. "He was a potential suspect in a homicide," Sunia said.

Kahealani disappeared Dec. 10 from the housing complex in Makalapa, triggering a massive search in the Halawa, Salt Lake and Aiea areas. Her body was found by a hiker three days later in a wooded area off Aiea Loop Trail. She apparently suffered head and neck wounds.

Police at the time said Aki admitted to picking up Kahealani at the housing complex Dec. 10 but implicated two other people in the fatal beating. Police later said he recanted, saying he beat her with a metal pipe, took her gold bracelets and left her to die off the Aiea Loop Trail.

Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall will hear further testimony on the defense's motion today.


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