GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Defense attorney Keith Shigetomi talked with convicted murderer Michael Pavich after his sentencing yesterday in Maui Circuit Court.
Prison for life in Maui murder case
Michael Pavich is sentenced in the killing of a retired doctor
WAILUKU » A 35-year-old Maui man was sentenced to life in prison for the strangulation death of a retired Navy physician during a burglary in a Kihei condominium.
Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza told Michael Pavich that he had opportunities to walk away from the burglary but chose to escalate the break-in into a "cold, cruel and vicious" act of robbery and murder of Dr. Edward Bird.
"The beating that Dr. Bird endured was extremely brutal," Cardoza said. "Others need to understand that this type of conduct cannot be tolerated."
Bird, 82, who relied on a motorized wheelchair to get to nearby stores, was found strangled in his Pacific Shores unit in Kihei in December 2000.
Cardoza said the beating was so severe that one of Bird's teeth penetrated the skin of face. He also noted that Pavich took the time to use his hands to strangle Bird.
The judge said Pavich's cold attitude toward the crime is reflected in the way he went to the refrigerator in Bird's kitchen after the murder and drank a can of soda.
Cardoza ordered Pavich to serve 10 years for the burglary, then 20 years for kidnapping and first-degree robbery, plus life in prison with the possibility of parole for second-degree murder. The Hawaii Paroling Authority will determine the minimum terms Pavich must serve.
Deputy Prosecutor Robert Rivera said Pavich deserved a heavier penalty but the state was satisfied with the sentence imposed on him because it protects the public from him.
Rivera said the sentence also sends a message to the parole board.
Defense attorney Keith Shigetomi had asked Cardoza to allow Pavich to serve the terms for the other convictions at the same time as the life term for the second-degree murder, because the killing was his first felony.
After the sentencing, Shigetomi said the sentence imposed on Pavich was consistent with the sentence received by Lisa Avilla.
Avilla, 35, convicted as the accomplice last December, received a sentence of 50 years in prison for the botched burglary that led to the robbery and murder.
Avilla and Pavich needed money to pay for more crystal methamphetamine, and she led Pavich to burglarize Bird's apartment, according to the prosecution. She testified against Pavich, who was convicted on Oct. 14.
Bird was a generous man who donated money to the Philippines to build a basketball gym, 10 houses and a scholarship fund for 20 students, according to a friend.
Children frequently visited his home, including Avilla's son, who once lived at Pacific Shores.