Saturday, December 4, 1999

Two acquitted in
Molokai pipeline case

By Gary T. Kubota
Maui correspondent


WAILUKU -- A Maui Circuit jury has found two men not guilty of destroying a Molokai Ranch pipeline.

Clarence H. Kaopuiki, 43, and Michael D. Perreira, 46, were acquitted yesterday of a charge of criminal property damage.

A hung jury was declared on two other criminal property damage charges against Kaopuiki for allegedly burning a Molokai Ranch beach cottage in 1995 and a Patterson Construction truck in 1996.

Kaopuiki's new trial was scheduled for April 15 in Maui Circuit Court.

Perreira, a former Kauai resident, said he was pleased with the verdict and planned to return to his new home in Washington state, where he works as a warehouse foreman. "I feel like I was in jail all this time," Perreira said. "Now I can go back to work."

Kaopuiki, a Molokai resident, said he planned to return to his home and work with relatives in restoring a fishpond.

"This has put a real dent in my family," Kaopuiki said. "It was very, very emotional."

The acquittals are the second time the county prosecutor has been unsuccessful in obtaining a guilty verdict in the pipeline case.

Molokai activist Walter Ritte was acquitted last year of the same charge.

A hung jury was declared on a criminal property damage charge alleging Ritte also burned the ranch beach house in 1995.

Defense attorney Susan Arnett, who represented Kaopuiki, said jurors apparently have had difficulty believing the prosecution's key witness, Glen Len Wai, a brother-in-law of Kaopuiki.

Arnett said she plans to file motions to have the remaining criminal property damage charges against Kaopuiki dismissed.

Arnett and Perreira's defense attorney, Vickie Russell, criticized the testimony of Len Wai.

Russell noted Len Wai stood to receive reward money and has obtained a job at the ranch.

The trial took about six weeks, with the jury deliberating for two and a half days. Molokai ranch official Harold Edwards testified the ranch spent close to $900,000 to restore the five-mile pipeline.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin