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Jury weighs truth of accused killer's alibi


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POSTED: Saturday, April 25, 2009

An attorney representing a man charged in the 1999 cold case murder and rape of 20-year-old Evelyn Luka said he was home the night she was seen leaving a Honolulu nightclub with a man.

Darnell Griffin's wife, Nancy, had testified that her husband was home with her on the night of Sept. 5, 1999, when Luka left the Venus Nite Club and was later found unconscious.

“;The person that left with Evelyn is not that man,”; said Deputy Public Defender Edward Aquino as he pointed to Darnell Griffin yesterday.

But Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Takata questioned how Nancy Griffin previously told police that she did not know the whereabouts of her husband. “;She's providing an alibi 10 years later?”; asked Takata.

The attorneys gave closing arguments yesterday in Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario's courtroom, and the jury started deliberations on the case.

Griffin, 50, was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault in connection with Luka's death. On the morning of Sept. 6, 1999, she was found unconscious near the Ka Uka Boulevard onramp.

Luka remained in a coma at Queen's Medical Center with brain damage. She was taken off life support on Oct. 2 after she failed to regain consciousness.

Aquino said two witnesses who worked at Venus Nite Club where Luka was last seen did not point to Griffin as the man she left the club with because he is not the person they saw.

Takata said all evidence, including DNA found from Luka's body, points to Griffin. He left his pregnant wife home to prowl the nightclubs and preyed on Luka who needed a ride home. Griffin wanted sex, but she refused, he said.

“;He raped her and strangled her because he didn't want to be arrested for raping her,”; said Takata. He then dressed her in a pair of oversized pants that only would have fitted his wife, who was more than seven months pregnant at the time.

Aquino also contended the only DNA found from Luka was hers and that there was no evidence of sexual assault. “;Their DNA doesn't hold water,”; said Aquino.