Ireland murder suspectsBy Rod Thompson
alleged confessor gets
HILO -- A state inmate who allegedly heard a confession regarding the 1991 murder of Big Island newcomer Dana Ireland was granted a reduction of his sentence today, part of a possible agreement for him to testify.
Judge Greg Nakamura reduced the minimum sentence for Michael Wayne Ortiz, 30, for a theft conviction, to the three years he has already served.
The state paroling authority must still decide whether Ortiz will go free with conditions or must serve more time.
Documents filed by Ortiz's attorney Andy Wilson link Ortiz to Ireland murder suspect Albert Ian Schweitzer, 27, but do not say there is an agreement.
Schweitzer's mother, Linda, said she believes Ortiz made an agreement with prosecutors.
"He cut a deal," she said. "He's the reason my sons (including Shawn Schweitzer, 23) were reindicted. He's the only reason."
Charges against the brothers were dropped last October when DNA from sperm on a hospital sheet where Ireland lay did not match their DNA.
Charges were reinstated in May.
Linda Schweitzer said prosecutors tried to get her and her husband, Jerry, to listen to a taped statement by Ortiz, hoping they would influence their sons to plea-bargain.
In the tape, Ortiz is believed to say Ian confessed to Ortiz while they were at Hawaii Community Correctional Center last year.
Linda said she and her husband refused to listen to the tape.
Ian and Ortiz were in the jail at the same time only for a brief period and could see each other only during recreation periods, Linda said.
Her son would have no reason to confess to Ortiz and denies talking to him, she said.
She sees Ortiz as one of a series of inmates who made deals to testify against her sons in exchange for leniency.
Wilson's documents say the reason for reducing Ortiz's sentence is that his life is in danger following newspaper articles quoting Linda.
"The defendant (Ortiz) is in mortal danger if he continues to remain incarcerated," Wilson wrote. Ortiz is locked up 23 hours per day for his own safety, he said.
There have been "representations and disclosures" of actual threats against Ortiz, deputy prosecutor Lincoln Ashida told Judge Nakamura.
Any inmate identified as a "snitch" is in danger, Ashida said outside the court.
Dana Ireland Archive