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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Murder defendant describes 'junk' meals

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

Murder defendant Emelie Rauschenburg said in Circuit Court yesterday that resentment over being served hot dogs and chicken noodle soup three times a week for lunch, oatmeal for breakfast and tea and crackers for an afternoon snack drove her to fatally stab care-home operator Agapita Alcaraz.

Rauschenburg said she had complained about a month before the stabbing about being served crackers and tea and said she felt that Alcaraz was trying to annoy her by continuing to bring the tea and crackers to her room.

Rauschenburg told the court she had considered stabbing Alcaraz on three other occasions, but didn't have "the guts."

But on the afternoon of Sept. 30, 2001, "I just lost control and I picked up the knife and I stabbed her," Rauschenburg said.

Her lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Gary Oakes, contends that Rauschenburg was suffering from an "extreme mental or emotional disturbance" at the time of the killing and should be found guilty of no more than manslaughter.

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.

Rauschenburg was 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 that fire.

Rauschenburg was committed to the state hospital, but was later placed on conditional release.

Alcaraz's death has triggered widespread concern by other care-home operators, who said the state should do more to inform them when they accept a patient with a violent history.

Psychologist Gary Farkas, called by Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Albert as a rebuttal witness, said Rauschenburg told him that she bought a knife, hid it under her pillow, and waited for an opportunity to kill Alcaraz.

Farkas said Rauschenburg told him "Mrs. Alcaraz was a mean care-home operator who didn't deserve to live, who gave her junk food and took all of her money."

Earlier in the same month that she was stabbed, Alcaraz had filed a report with the Adult Probation Division of Circuit Court saying she had not noticed any mental health problems with Rauschenburg, Farkas said.

He was the last witness to testify in the jury-waived trial before Circuit Judge Wilfred Watanabe, who gave both sides until Feb. 3 to submit written closing arguments.