Infidelity may have
led to killing at Pearl

The sailor also feared his wife would flee
to Asia with their kids, witnesses testify

By Gregg K. Kakesako

A sailor was driven to murder his Singapore-born wife because he believed she was fooling around, and he was afraid that she was planning to run away to Asia with the couple's three children, several witnesses testified yesterday during a hearing at a Pearl Harbor courthouse.

A daylong hearing was held for Petty Officer 2nd Class David Allen DeArmond, 33. He is accused of killing his wife, Zaleha DeArmond, 31, and her mother, Saniah Binte Abdul Ghani, 66, on June 10. Their bodies were found on the second story of their home in the Hokulani naval housing complex at Pearl Harbor.

DeArmond is charged with striking his wife in the head with an iron skillet. The Navy said she was raped and her mother was stabbed repeatedly with a knife.

Besides rape and murder, DeArmond also is charged with abusing his wife's body and impeding the criminal investigation by destroying, moving and tampering with the evidence in the couple's naval housing on Leal Place outside Pearl Harbor's Nimitz Gate.

More than 40 witnesses were scheduled to appear yesterday, the first day of an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a preliminary hearing. It will be up to investigating officer Marine Corps Maj. Michael Mori to hear all the evidence and recommend to Rear Adm. Robert Conway, Navy Region Hawaii commander, whether DeArmond should be court-martialed.

DeArmond could face the death penalty pending the outcome of the hearing, expected to run at least through Tuesday.

Yesterday, DeArmond's co-workers described him as "a hard worker" and ranked him one of the top hull workers in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.

DeArmond's personal life was a different story, however.

Witnesses said DeArmond was worried that his wife was "sleeping around," drinking and staying out late.

Petty Officer David Wilson, one of DeArmond's supervisors at the shipyard, said that in April, Zaleha DeArmond admitted to Wilson that she was having an affair. Wilson said that he sat down with the couple in their home as they discussed the possibility of ending the marriage.

Wilson said DeArmond sought his advice on numerous occasions because his wife was "doing a lot of drinking, not coming home at all at night."

Witness Chief Petty Officer Louis Espinosa, another of DeArmond's supervisors, testified the couple's relationship was like "a yo-yo."

"It was a constant up-and-down cycle," Espinosa said. "He would work himself up to getting a divorce, and then they would be back together again. At one point he even got an attorney."

Espinosa also said DeArmond did not get along with his mother-in-law, who did not speak English. "There were language barriers," he added, "and religious differences."

Petty Officer Steven Pitkin, who lives across the street from the DeArmonds, said that sometime late last year or in early January, Zaleha DeArmond, her mother and the three children came to his house saying DeArmond threatened to kill her.

He said that Zaleha DeArmond was "hysterical" and that she said her husband had hit her with a clock.

Espinosa said that at one point earlier this year, DeArmond volunteered for duty on a ship home-ported in Japan so his wife would be closer to Singapore, but that request was denied because of the couple's problems.

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