Defendant denies he killed Maui physician
WAILUKU » A Maui man accused of second-degree murder yesterday testified he never strangled 82-year-old retired Navy physician Edward Bird during a burglary at his home in Kihei.
"I've never been inside Mr. Bird's apartment," Michael Arlo Pavich told jurors.
Pavich, 34, who took the stand yesterday in Maui Circuit Court, said he stayed at Charlie Young Beach, while Lisa Avilla and her cousin Shannon Estencion went to burglarize the home.
Bird, who could barely walk with a cane and used a wheelchair to travel to and from the store, was found in the ground-floor bedroom of his Pacific Shores condominium on the morning of Dec. 3, 2000.
Avilla, 35, has testified she and Pavich burglarized the home and Pavich strangled Bird in a struggle.
The prosecution has alleged that blood traces found on a napkin in Bird's kitchen were consistent with Pavich's DNA profile.
Pavich has pleaded not guilty to the charges of second-degree murder, first-degree burglary, kidnapping and first-degree robbery.
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.
Shigetomi has said Bird had filed a police report against Avilla and another woman for allegedly stealing items from his home previously. And Pavich said the idea to burglarize the house came from Avilla.
"She said, 'Let's go rip off" Bird for summoning police, Pavich said.
Pavich said he refused to go with Avilla and Estencion and smoked a cigarette at Charlie Young Beach in south Maui, while waiting for them to return to pick him up.
Pavich said when Avilla and Estencion returned, they had a number of items, including a blender cup and a lamp that had a little bit of blood on it.
Pavich said Avilla told him about the murder and he left her home on Walaka Place in Kihei later that day.
He said while walking on Namauu Place on Dec. 17, he eluded police because he was carrying a bag with drug paraphernalia, including crystal methamphetamine pipes, and he was unaware that he was a suspect in the murder.
Pavich said he later arranged to turned himself in to police.
At one point, Pavich was asked by his attorney to approach jurors to show he had no bite scars on his hands.
Under cross-examination, Pavich said he was about 5 feet 11 inches tall and had hand-to-hand combat training as a Marine.
He said he was taller than Avilla or Estencion but Estencion weighed as much as him.
Avilla stands close to 5 foot 2 inches in height, and Estencion is about 5 feet 6 inches tall.
The attorneys were expected to present closing arguments this morning.