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Monday, July 3, 2000

Suspect pleads
not guilty in death
of burned wife

Questions of the defendant's
mental state were not
resolved in court today

By Anthony Sommer
Kauai correspondent


LIHUE -- Gregory Aguiar, accused of pouring a flammable liquid on his wife and setting her on fire during a domestic dispute on March 12 at their Eleele home, pleaded not guilty in Kauai Circuit Court today to charges of murder and reckless endangerment. Trial is set for Oct. 1.

His wife, Miu Lan Esposo-Aguiar, 39, died of her injuries March 31 at Straub Hospital.

Circuit Judge George Masuoka today did not resolve the question of Aguiar's mental capacity either at the time of the alleged crime or currently. He had been expected to deal with motions made by Aguiar's court-appointed attorney, Peter Kea, to determine whether Aguiar was mentally able to understand what he was doing when he allegedly set fire to his wife and whether he is mentally competent to understand the charges against him.

Three psychiatric evaluations that were completed as a result of his original case in District Court became moot when he was indicted and the case shifted to Circuit Court in April.

Aguiar, 49, who had been charged with attempted murder, was indicted on the murder charge on April 14, but the indictment was not made public until last week. The reckless endangerment charge stems from the couple's 3-year-old granddaughter's being in the same room during the crime. The child was uninjured. Aguiar surrendered to police later the same day. He has been held since then in lieu of $1 million bail.

According to police reports, neighbors saw Esposo-Aguiar run out of her kitchen and down her driveway, covered in flames.

She ran across the street and doused herself with a garden hose.

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