Trial opens
in Kihei killing

The former girlfriend of a slain doctor
will testify against her alleged accomplice

WAILUKU » A jury trial began yesterday against a man accused of strangling retired Navy physician Edward "Doc" Bird during a burglary at his home on Maui.

Michael Arlo Pavich, 34, charged with second-degree murder, could face life in prison without parole under Hawaii law, if convicted of killing a person older than 65 years of age.

Bird, 82, who could barely walk with a cane, used an electric wheelchair to travel from his Pacific Shores condominium in Kihei to neighborhood stores.

His body was found in his bedroom on the morning of Dec. 3, 2000.

Pavich's former girlfriend Lisa Avilla, an alleged accomplice, is expected to testify for the prosecution.

In his opening statement in Maui Circuit Court, Deputy Prosecutor Robert Rivera described Pavich and Avilla as "two desperate drug abusers" who went to burglarize Bird's home.

A struggle occurred in Bird's bedroom, and Bird "didn't go out of this world without a fight," Rivera said.

"It was two against one ... with weapons used to pummel him," he said.

Rivera said that to get Avilla to testify, the prosecution had to make a deal that would reduce her charge from second-degree murder to manslaughter.

"This is one case where the state literally had to make a deal with the devil," he said.

Rivera said other charges, including first-degree kidnapping and burglary, remain against Avilla, leaving her with a mandatory sentence of 20 years to life with the possibility of parole.

He said Avilla knew which home to go to and lied twice to police before admitting she was in Bird's condominium with Pavich.

Rivera said an expert will testify that DNA blood samples taken from a napkin show Pavich was in Bird's apartment.

He said Pavich and Avilla later returned to their home with a lamp and blender cup that had blood on them.

Maria Knauer, a prosecution witness who lived in the unit above Bird, testified she heard a pounding noise that woke her early on the morning of Dec. 3, then went back to sleep.

She said it did not occur to her until hours after learning of the killing that the commotion came from a struggle.

Knauer said her then-9-year-old son Zak, who wanted to spend the morning with Bird, later found his body lying on the bed.

Zak came running back to his family's apartment saying "Doc" was hurt and asking her to call for help, Knauer said. "He was distressed. He was frightened," she said.

Knauer said she went downstairs to Bird's unit.

A police photograph admitted into evidence showed Bird's body lying face down on the bed with head wounds near blood on the wall and a pillow covered with blood.

"There were papers everywhere," she said. "He was a very kind man. He was very kind to us."

Defense attorney Keith Shigetomi said many of the prosecution witnesses, including Avilla, only offered information when they found themselves in trouble.

Bird had filed a report with police naming Avilla and another woman in an earlier theft, Shigetomi said.

Shigetomi said Avilla decided to make a deal only after she was arrested for the murder and the statements she made to receive the deal with the prosecution do not match her earlier statements.

He said many of the prosecution witnesses received deals and made "misstatements, half-truths and outrageous lies."

The trial is expected to resume today.

| | |
E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com