Monday, December 14, 1998

Judge puts brakes
on murder trial

A Big Island deputy
prosecutor is accused of
lying to the court

By Rod Thompson


HILO -- Judge Riki May Amano halted a Hilo murder trial today to begin the equivalent of a mini-trial on what to do about the deputy prosecutor accused of lying to the court.

Deputy Prosecutor Kay Iopa said she would not disclose information to a key witness, but did so anyway and then misrepresented that fact, defense attorney Brian De Lima said.

Christopher Wilmer Jr. is on trial for allegedly stabbing retired Hilo businessman Gordon Granger to death in 1997.

De Lima asked the judge to dismiss the charge last week and to order that it cannot be refiled.

The problem began when the court learned that Wilmer sent a letter to a female prospective juror, who was not chosen for the jury, saying he was attracted to her.

Iopa told a prosecution staff member about the letter, and the staffer told Wilmer's ex-girlfriend, Misty Kuheana, De Lima said.

Kuheana, a key witness, says Wilmer confessed the killing to her. De Lima told the jury Kuheana can't be trusted because she has personal reasons for being angry at Wilmer.

De Lima said Iopa promised not to tell Kuheana about the letter. Later, Iopa said Kuheana was told only after she testified, De Lima said. Iopa then told the judge Kuheana learned about the letter midway through her testimony.

De Lima today asked Amano to put Iopa on the witness stand so her statements will be under oath. Amano didn't immediately rule on that, but she said other witnesses must testify today to determine the facts about Iopa's statements.

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