Tuesday, January 5, 1999

Stress may have
been factor in
official’s death

By Rod Thompson


HILO -- While no one knows what caused Hawaii County Deputy Prosecutor Ian Cate apparently to commit suicide Sunday, his death is leading many people to consider the stress in their own lives, defense attorney Brian DeLima says.

Prosecutor Jay Kimura said he still doesn't know what motivated Cate to shoot himself at the office, but being a prosecutor carries stress.

"It's a stressful job. I don't know how else to put it," he said.

And DeLima believes stress may have contributed to another troublesome event in the prosecutor's office recently, the finding by Judge Riki May Amano of misconduct during a murder trial on the part of Deputy Prosecutor Kay Iopa.

Her resignation is effective at the end of this month.

DeLima, who opposed Iopa in the trial, said something must have motivated her conduct, which included failing to reveal information that might show the defendant, Christopher Wilmer Jr., is not guilty of killing businessman Gordon Granger.

"There must have been a level of stress to make her do what she did," he said.

A third recent event also is casting a shadow on the prosecutor's office: the unexplained dismissal of charges in October against two of the three men suspected in the 1991 killing of Big Island visitor Dana Ireland.

All attorneys in the Ireland case were under a court gag order before the dismissal. The attorneys voluntarily kept silent after the dismissal.

Judicial rules prevent prosecutors from discussing many aspects of cases, and the agreement in the Ireland case prevents Kimura from commenting on it.

That too can lead to stress, Kimura suggested. "You're not free to discuss it, so you tend to internalize a lot of it," he said.

An apparent contributor to Cate's difficulties was the recent breakup with a girlfriend, DeLima said.

DeLima had advised Cate not to worry too much about it, telling him he was good-looking and there are "plenty more out there."

"He just smiled" at the observation, DeLima said.

In fact, Cate appeared to be universally well-liked. "He was such a nice guy," De Lima said. "He was respected by the legal community."

Kimura said Cate was in good spirits when he attended a New Year's Eve party at the home of one of the prosecution staff.

Sleeping overnight at the house, he was again described in good spirits the next day, Kimura said.

"I really don't know why he did it," Kimura said.

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