Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Arakawa will not
testify in defense,
his attorney says

Michael Ostendorp says the
prosecution did not prove its case

By Leila Fujimori

The jury in the Clyde Arakawa manslaughter trial will not hear from the former Honolulu police officer accused of killing 19-year-old Dana Ambrose in a Oct. 7, 2000, car crash.

With attorneys expected to give closing arguments as early as tomorrow morning, Arakawa's attorney Michael Ostendorp said yesterday that his client would not testify.

"I don't believe they have proven their case," Ostendorp said of the prosecution. "There's no reason for him to get up and testify. It's just dragging on."

A final defense witness and the prosecution's last rebuttal witnesses may testify this afternoon.

The former police officer is standing trial for manslaughter in the death of Ambrose, who was killed when Arakawa's Ford Thunderbird collided with her Honda Civic at the intersection of Pali Highway and School Street.

The prosecution contends Arakawa was drunk, speeding and ran a red light. The defense contends Arakawa had a green light, was not speeding and was not drunk.

The prosecution called rebuttal witnesses yesterday to refute defense expert Laura Liptai who testified it appeared Ambrose was not wearing a seat belt, which would have contributed to her own injuries.

Firefighter Adam Enos testified he cut Ambrose's seat belt just above her left shoulder.

And Chief Medical Examiner Kanthi Von Guenthner testified that "Dana had an injury to her left shoulder, which is commonly referred to as a seat belt sign."

During Von Guenthner's testimony, City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle displayed an autopsy photo on a large TV screen. Ambrose's boyfriend averted his eyes, while her mother brushed away tears.

Von Guenthner told the jury a bruise and two marks on her left shoulder were caused by the seat belt.

"If she was not restrained, she would have had much severe injuries to her facial areas and chest," he said.

Prosecution witness Clifford Wong, a toxicologist, was recalled yesterday and said psychologist Marcelline Burns did take into consideration Arakawa's metabolism when she calculated Arakawa's blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit at the time of the crash. Wong's testimony disputed a defense expert's allegation that Burns had failed to do so.

The defense contends that Arakawa was not drunk despite drinking before the crash because he is an experienced drinker with a resilient liver that can process alcohol fast.

During a break at the trial, Arakawa told the Star-Bulletin that the results of tests by defense expert Norman "Wes" Anderson would have best shown his condition on the night of the accident.

Anderson put Arakawa through driving tests after he was given food and drink to simulate the night of the accident, but Circuit Judge Karen Ahn disallowed the test results, saying they were unreliable.

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