Hawaii man imprisoned for 1991 homicide and rape of vacationer launched after decide hears new proof of innocence

HONOLULU — A decide on Tuesday ordered a person launched from jail instantly after his attorneys offered new proof and argued that he didn’t commit the crimes he was convicted of and spent greater than 20 years locked up for: the 1991 homicide, kidnapping and sexual assault of a girl visiting Hawaii.

Albert “Ian” Schweitzer, who was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to 130 years in jail, needs to be “launched from his shackles instantly,” Decide Peter Kubota dominated.

That prompted applause within the Hilo courtroom and hugs for Schweitzer, who was flown to the Huge Island for the listening to from the Arizona jail the place he was serving his sentence.

“My emotions have been in every single place,” Schweitzer instructed the AP throughout a cellphone interview in recalling the second of his launch. “Nerves, nervousness, scared.”

The justice system is “flawed,” he stated, calling himself one in every of many imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit. He earlier instructed reporters that he was “grateful” for the decide doing the “honorable factor.”

A petition filed late Monday outlined further proof in one in every of Hawaii’s largest murders, which unfolded on Christmas Eve in 1991 on the Huge Island.

Dana Eire, 23, was discovered barely alive within the bushes alongside a fishing path in Puna, a distant part of the island. She had been sexually assaulted and crushed, and later died at Hilo Medical Middle. The mangled bicycle she had been driving was discovered a number of miles away and appeared to have been run into by a automobile.

The slaying of the blond-haired, blue-eyed customer from Virginia gained nationwide consideration and remained unsolved for years, placing intense strain on police to search out the killer.

“Each time you’ve got a white, feminine sufferer … it will get much more consideration than individuals of shade and Native Hawaiians,” stated Kenneth Lawson, co-director of the Hawaii Innocence Venture. “The mother and father, understandably, have been turning into an increasing number of infuriated. … There was insurmountable strain to resolve this case. And when that occurs, errors are made. Some intentional and a few unintentional.”

Eire’s relations couldn’t instantly be reached for touch upon the petition and Schweitzer’s launch. Prosecutors didn’t instantly touch upon Schweitzer’s launch.

With assist from the Innocence Venture in New York, the co-counsel within the case, Lawson’s group represented Schweitzer, the final of three Native Hawaiian males convicted in Eire’s dying who had remained imprisoned.

DNA proof beforehand submitted within the case belonged to an unknown man and all three of the convicted males have been excluded as sources.

New DNA proof, in response to the petition, exhibits a “Jimmy Z” model T-shirt discovered close to Eire and soaked along with her blood belonged to the identical unknown man, and to not one of many three males, as prosecutors claimed.

Moreover, a brand new tire tread evaluation concluded Schweitzer’s Volkswagen Beetle automotive didn’t depart tire marks at both location the place Eire and her bicycle have been discovered. A forensic odontologist additionally concluded an harm on her left breast wasn’t a bitemark, as beforehand believed, the petition stated.

“At a brand new trial in the present day, a jury wouldn’t convict Mr. Schweitzer of Ms. Eire’s sexual assault and homicide,” the petition stated. “Actually, a prosecutor would doubtless not even arrest Mr. Schweitzer for this crime.”

The chance that each one three males participated in a sexual assault and left no hint of organic proof — together with an absence of proof uncovered with superior forensic testing — is “terribly unbelievable,” the petition stated.

In 2019, Schweitzer’s attorneys and Hawaii County prosecutors entered right into a “conviction integrity settlement” to reinvestigate the case. It was the primary time in Hawaii there was the sort of settlement, Lawson stated, which is more and more getting used to reexamine questionable convictions and guard in opposition to future errors.

“During the last three years, we now have shared info and re-examined forensic proof. Regardless of the result in these post-conviction proceedings, we stay dedicated to figuring out unknown male #1 and searching for justice for Dana Eire and her `ohana,” Hawaii County Prosecuting Legal professional Kelden Waltjen stated in an announcement earlier than the ruling, utilizing the Hawaiian phrase for “household.”

Nevertheless, Deputy Prosecuting Legal professional Shannon Kagawa requested the decide to disclaim the petition, saying the brand new proof wouldn’t change the result of a brand new trial.

Kubota disagreed, saying that based mostly on the brand new proof, a jury would acquit Schweitzer.

A lot of the background on the Eire case is detailed in a doc filed with the petition itemizing information that protection attorneys and prosecutors have stipulated.

In 1994, police made what they believed to be a significant breakthrough. A person going through fees for his function in a cocaine conspiracy contacted police and claimed his half-brother, Frank Pauline Jr., witnessed Eire’s assault, in response to the stipulated information doc.

Police interviewed Pauline, who was in his third month of a 10-year sentence for an unrelated intercourse assault and theft. He claimed brothers Ian and Shawn Schweitzer attacked and killed Eire. However he was interviewed not less than seven occasions and gave inconsistent accounts every time, finally incriminating himself, the stipulation doc stated.

Regardless of the dearth of proof linking them to the killing, the 2 Schweitzers and Pauline have been indicted in 1997.

At one level the fees have been dismissed as a result of all three males have been excluded because the supply of semen present in Eire and on a hospital gurney sheet. They have been indicted once more after one other informant claimed Ian Schweitzer confessed to him in jail that Pauline raped and killed Eire.

Pauline later stated he provided particulars to police in regards to the Eire homicide as a way to get drug fees dropped in opposition to his half-brother.

In a jail interview with the A&E present “American Justice,” Pauline in contrast his story to the story of the boy who cried wolf. “Wasn’t me,” he stated in a robust Hawaii Pidgin accent. However when he began telling the reality, he stated nobody believed him.

Shawn Schweitzer took a deal to plead responsible to manslaughter and kidnapping — and obtain credit score for a couple of yr served and 5 years of probation — after seeing juries convict Pauline and his brother in 2000.

In October, Shawn Schweitzer met with prosecutors and recanted. In response to the stipulation doc, he pleaded responsible as a result of his “mother and father didn’t need to danger shedding one other son and inspired Shawn Schweitzer to do what he wanted to do to come back dwelling and never endure the identical destiny as his brother.”

Shawn Schweitzer “continues to really feel immense guilt about agreeing to the confession and getting into a responsible plea for a criminal offense he didn’t commit and falsely implicating his brother,” the doc stated.

A polygraph take a look at in November confirmed he was telling the reality when he denied any involvement within the homicide, the doc stated.

Pauline was killed in a New Mexico jail by a fellow inmate in 2015.

Being again in Hawaii “tastes nice,” Schweitzer instructed the AP.

“The air is nice,” he stated. “The water is nice.”

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