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Wednesday, April 12, 2000

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Puna Suganuma bows her head during a moment of
silence for domestic victim Miu Lan Esposo-Aguilar
in front of Honolulu Hale yesterday. Behind her
is Raynette Ahuna.

Kauai vigil

Some 150 turn out to
listen, and mourn a
woman set afire

By Anthony Sommer
Kauai correspondent


LIHUE -- About 150 people marched silently around the Kauai County Building in remembrance of Miu Lan Esposo-Aguiar last night and then stood in a park and listened to speeches condemning domestic violence.

Aguiar's husband, Gregory Aguiar, has been charged with second-degree murder, accused of pouring gasoline on her and setting her on fire during an argument at their Eleele home.

She died March 31 after spending three weeks in intensive care at Straub Hospital on Oahu. She was 39.

By Anthony Sommer, Star-Bulletin
Miu Lan Esposo-Aquiar's son, Chas Fu, and his
girlfriend, Lei Gardner, listen to speeches about
domestic violence in front of the Kauai County
Building yesterday. They are surrounded by
other family members.

Aguiar, 49, is undergoing psychiatric evaluation and his legal proceedings are on hold until it is determined whether he is competent to stand trial.

About a dozen members of Miu Lan Esposo-Aguiar's family attended the march, which was sponsored by the YWCA Family Violence Shelter. Another march was held in Honolulu.

The family stood quietly in the background at the Kauai march and were not introduced by any of the speakers. Several people who knew them offered hugs and condolences.

"It's been very hard on all of us," said Esposo-Aguiar's son Chas Fu, 21, of Anahola. "I think we're all glad we came tonight."

"The hurt will always be there, and the missing," said another relative who asked not to be identified.

Before Esposo-Aguiar's death, there had not been a murder on Kauai for two and a half years, and most of those in the recent past were drug-related. No one could recall the last death on Kauai caused by a domestic dispute.

"This is not the same island that it was when Miu Lan was alive," Virginia Beck, a mental health practitioner, told the crowd of mostly middle-aged women. "A single act of violence changed it for all of us."

Esposo-Aguiar was the office manager for a Kauai medical equipment supply store. As paramedics treated her for massive burns in the driveway of a neighbor's home, she told police she and her husband had been arguing about the amount of time she was spending on Oahu opening a new store.

Neighbors told police she ran across the street in a "ball of flame" and grabbed a garden hose to put the fire out. They said her husband drove away.

A short while later, he was persuaded to turn himself in to police.

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