Maui woman says she saw boyfriend kill victim
The defense accuses witnesses of untruths because of plea deals
WAILUKU » A Maui woman testified yesterday that she saw then-boyfriend Michael Arlo Pavich choking 82-year-old retired Navy physician Edward Bird during a burglary in Kihei.
Michael Arlo Pavich: He is being tried in the burglary and death of a retired Kihei physician
Avilla, 35, testified in Maui Circuit Court as a prosecution witness against Pavich, who faces several charges, including second-degree murder.
Bird's body was found in the bedroom of his Pacific Shores condominium on the morning of Dec. 3, 2000.
Pavich, 34, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his defense attorney Keith Shigetomi has accused Avilla and other witnesses of making misstatements and lying after receiving favorable treatment as a result of their testimonies.
Avilla said her son and other children at Pacific Shores condominium frequently visited Bird in his ground-floor condominium, and she had also been there once before the burglary. Avilla, who was then a drug addict, said she led Pavich to Bird's home for the burglary.
She said she initially lied to police about the burglary and death of Bird because she was afraid that Pavich would kill her and her children. "I was scared. ... I knew he could get out," she said.
Avilla said in return for her testimony, she was getting a plea agreement that would reduce a second-degree murder charge against her to manslaughter.
Under cross-examination by Shigetomi, Avilla said that if there were no plea agreement, she would not be testifying.
She also admitted that in January 2000 she and another woman had been investigated for allegedly stealing property belonging to Bird. She said she had not stolen anything from Bird's condominium.
Avilla acknowledged that at the time of Bird's death, she was a felon on probation who had been convicted of six counts of forgery and two counts of theft and had lied to her probation officer about not taking drugs.
Avilla said she had started smoking "ice" in 1991 after the death of her mother and was anorexic and feared gaining weight.
"I hide my anorexia for a long time, and the sick thing was I wasn't fat but I thought I was," she said.
The jury trial resumes today with Avilla continuing to undergo cross-examination.