High court affirms conviction
Christopher Aki was found guilty in the death of an 11-year-old
The state Supreme Court affirmed yesterday the 2004 conviction and sentence of Christopher Aki, who was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of 11-year-old Kahealani Indreginal.
Prosecutors sought a second-degree murder conviction for causing her death intentionally or by failing to get help after she was beaten and abandoned Dec. 10, 2002, at Keaiwa Heiau State Park.
The appeal was based on nine points of error Aki contended the court made.
The high court said that the lower court properly refused to suppress his statements to police because he was not in custody at the time of the interrogation and, therefore, did not require Miranda warnings, and that police questions were not coercive.
At trial, prosecutors argued Aki confessed to being solely responsible for killing Indreginal while under the effects of "ice," and told police he snapped, knocked her out with his fist and beat her with a pipe more than 20 times.
But Aki said he falsely confessed because Dennis Cacatian, Indreginal's uncle whom Aki testified was the real killer, threatened him with a gun if he told anyone.
Aki maintained his innocence, testifying he drove the girl to a park to confront Cacatian, a convicted rapist, for inappropriately touching her. He testified Cacatian hit her in the head with a large rock at least six times.
The Supreme Court found the Circuit Court was correct in refusing to admit two double hearsay statements purportedly made by Cacatian that he was responsible for the girl's death.
The court said that only one statement was made by Cacatian; the other, by his brother Pancho, contained inconsistencies and lacked corroborating circumstances.
The high court also found the Circuit Court did not err when it refused to compel Cacatian to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in front of a jury, citing case law that shows it should be made without knowledge of the jury wherever practicable.
The Supreme Court did not accept Aki's assertion that the trial court erred when it gave the jury its instruction defining reckless manslaughter by omission, and that the jury should have been provided with an interrogatory to determine whether the reckless manslaughter was either by omission or commission.
The court found that regardless of the alternative giving rise to criminal liability, the punishment is the same.