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Saturday, January 22, 2000

Dana Ireland Trial

prison confession
key to next Ireland
murder trial

On Monday it's Albert Ian
Schweitzer's turn in court for
the brutal slaying

By Rod Thompson


HILO -- Dana Ireland murder suspect Albert Ian Schweitzer confessed to a cellmate in 1998 that he was involved in the crime, according to court documents.

But the cellmate, Michael Ortiz, waited months to reveal the confession to police. Ortiz then received a reduction in his theft sentence.

"I don't know if a jury's going to believe this," commented Honolulu attorney David Hayakawa, who is not connected with the case. (The Star-Bulletin interviewed two attorneys for their views on the case.)

A four-week trial for Schweitzer, 28, begins Monday in the court of Judge Riki May Amano. It will be the second trial of a suspect for the events on Christmas Eve 1991, when Ireland was run over, taken to a remote spot, raped and beaten, and left to die.

Frank Pauline Jr., 26, was convicted of murder, kidnapping and sexual assault in the case last summer. Schweitzer faces the same charges now, and his brother Shawn, 24, is to be tried in March.

Pauline's numerous confessions are different from Schweitzer's alleged statement.

Beginning in 1994, Pauline confessed repeatedly to police, television and a newspaper. The Schweitzers have remained silent.

Then on May 5 last year, three weeks before the statute of limitations on kidnapping and sexual assault charges ran out, Ortiz told his story of Schweitzer's statement allegedly made eight months earlier in August 1998.

In a grand jury transcript, prosecution investigator William Perreira retells the story:

Schweitzer asked his cellmate Ortiz about court, Perreira said.

Ortiz replied, "So what? You guys did 'em?"

Schweitzer then told Ortiz he drove at Ireland because Pauline wanted to punch her, but he lost control of the car and hit her.

Pauline said Schweitzer deliberately ran over her.

Ortiz said Schweitzer told him Pauline pulled Ireland into the car onto his lap, tearing a wad of hair out of her head in the process.

Pauline said the Schweitzers put Ireland in the front-end trunk of the Volkswagen bug. Pauline bit her on the breast in the car, Ortiz said.

At a remote spot, Pauline alone raped Ireland, Ortiz said.

Pauline said the two brothers raped her, and he did not.

Testimony in the previous trial was that the DNA from sperm in Ireland's body didn't match any of the three.

Hayakawa doubted the whole story. "The rat's story doesn't match everything else," he said.

Attorney Ira Leitel, who represented Shawn until removed by a conflict, scoffs at the story.

"Are you crazy?" he reacted, on hearing Pauline allegedly bit Ireland on the breast in the confined space of the VW bug.

But the story means trouble for the defense, he said.

"It's nearly impossible to disprove something happened (between Ortiz and Schweitzer). If the jury hears it, the damage is done."

Defense attorney James Biven wrote to Amano months ago that he expects Pauline to take the Fifth Amendment if called. He asked her to exclude any police versions of Pauline's confessions as hearsay.

Amano hasn't ruled on his request, a fact that Hayakawa found amazing. He called Pauline's confessions "a critical piece of evidence." Biven's not knowing if he will have to respond to Pauline must leave him "overloaded," Hayakawa said.

Biven has stated that Schweitzer will use an alibi defense. Schweitzer told police he was at his Uncle Kenny's house in the Paradise Park subdivision that day.

Capt. Francis Rodillas told the grand jury that Schweitzer first said the Volkswagen was not operable that day, then said he may have used it to go to his uncle's house.

Surfer Shayne Kobayashi testified in Pauline's trial that he saw the Schweitzers and Pauline in the Volkswagen at a surfing spot Dec. 24, 1991.

Ireland arrived there on a bicycle, then left, he said. Shortly after, the Schweitzers and Pauline drove off in the same direction.

Like Ortiz, Kobayashi was in prison when he told his story to police. He testified he made a deal to get out, but also did it "for justice."

Pauline's half-brother John Gonsalves said he saw all three later that evening, laughing about a dent in the car, saying they hit a dog.

Dana Ireland Archive

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