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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 4, 2002

911 call played at trial in knife killing

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

The trial of a care-home occupant accused of fatally stabbing the Waipahu facility's operator began yesterday with a taped 911 call in which police said defendant Emelie Rauschenburg tells a dispatcher repeatedly that she has just killed someone.

Terry Thompson, a dispatch supervisor, said in Circuit Court that the call came in just after 3 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2001.

Thompson said she tried to keep the caller on the line while police officers were en route to the home of Agapita Alcaraz at 94-497 Kahualena St.

The woman can be heard on the tape identifying Alcaraz by name and answering a number of questions from Thompson about where Alcaraz's body was, when the stabbing took place, whether anyone else saw the stabbing and if anyone else was in the home.

When asked where she got the knife, the caller told Thompson: "I just bought it and I killed her."

When Thompson asked her why, the woman said it was because Alcaraz "was greedy." The caller said she was paying more than $1,000 a month to live at the care home but was served food she considered "junk."

In response to questions from city Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Albert, Thompson said she has been a 911 dispatcher for more than 20 years and handled close to a million calls for help during that time. She described the caller's demeanor as calm.

"She answered all of my questions although it was difficult to understand her at times," Thompson said.

Near the end of the taped emergency call, the woman threatens to harm others.

"I going kill everybody if they come," she said.

Police officer Ryan Matsuda, among the first to arrive at the scene, said Rauschenburg walked from the back bedroom to the kitchen of the home but he did not see her until she was about 2 to 4 feet from him.

He said she had a bloody knife poised above her head. Matsuda said he drew his gun and ordered Rauschenburg three or four times to put the knife down before she finally placed it on a chair.

In his opening statement, Albert described Alcaraz as "a very caring person" and one well suited to operate a care home.

While Rauschenburg was reporting the incident to police, she was not sobbing and did not appear to be hysterical, Albert said

A panel of three mental health experts examined Rauschenburg after the stabbing and concluded that she could control herself and could appreciate the wrongfulness of her actions, Albert said.

That finding is a key element in the attempt to prosecute Rauschenburg, who had been acquitted in 1984 of murder, and attempted murder by reason of insanity, for setting fire to a Makiki rooming house. One man was killed in the fire. Rauschenburg was committed to the state hospital but was later placed on conditional release.

Deputy Public Defender Gary Oakes told Circuit Judge Wilfred Watanabe, who is presiding over the jury-waived trial, that if he were to make any opening statement, it wouldn't be until the prosecution rests its case.

Oakes intends to argue that Rauschenburg was suffering from an "extreme mental or emotional disturbance" when she stabbed Alcaraz and is guilty of no more than manslaughter.

Alcaraz's death triggered an outpouring of concern by other care-home operators who said the state should do more to inform them whenever they accept a patient with a violent history.