Tuesday, September 28, 1999

Maui slaying suspect
has violent past

By Gary T. Kubota


WAILUKU -- Leona DeCambra once described her stepfather, Brian Kawamoto, as a "good guy" who just needed some counseling to come to his senses.

But DeCambra, 18, also described in court documents a violent side of Kawamoto: He recently threatened bodily harm to her and her brother and sister if they supported their mother, Bridget, who had obtained a court order preventing him from staying at their Waiehu Terrace residence.

"He ... said if we didn't back him by saying my mom is the bad person, he was going to come back and kill us," she said.

Maui police say Kawamoto returned Friday evening to the Waiehu house and fatally stabbed his wife in the bathroom of her bedroom.

Kawamoto, 42, charged with second-degree murder and terroristic threatening, was being held without bail in the Maui jail. His preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 1 p.m. tomorrow in Maui District Court.

Kawamoto was able to stand in Maui District Court yesterday to hear the charges against him, despite receiving some injuries from his vehicle plunging down a cliff at Kahakuloa after he allegedly left the murder scene.

Family Court records show Kawamoto has a history of domestic abuse dating to Dec. 26, 1993. He was placed on probation for a year and ordered to serve two days in jail. He also completed a program intended to reform those found guilty of domestic violence.

Kawamoto and his wife sought temporary restraining orders against each other in 1996 -- complaints dismissed by a judge for lack of evidence.

Bridget Kawamoto obtained a temporary restraining order this year, forbidding her husband from staying at the residence or coming into contact with her.

Police were looking for Brian Kawamoto after he allegedly threatened his wife and violated the restraining order, police Lt. Glenn Cuomo said.

According to a court affidavit filed by police, Bridget Kawamoto noticed slippers outside the home on Friday evening. Kawamoto asked her 12-year-old son to see if his father was in the house. He checked the house and told her he didn't see his father.

After his mother entered the home, the son saw what he believed to be his father's hand closing the door to the bedroom that his mother had entered.

The son said he heard his mother scream and he and his 16-year-old sister fled the residence. Leona, who was at a neighbor's home, called police.

Several people said they saw Brian Kawamoto, wearing light-colored shorts and covered with blood on his chest and hands, walk away from the home.

Neighbor Deborah Seitz recalled asking Kawamoto what happened and Kawamoto saying, "Call the cops. I'm sick of this."

The son returned to the house with a neighbor who broke down the bedroom door. The body of Bridget Kawamoto was sitting in the bathtub with a stab wound near the heart.

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