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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Maui man ruled insane in beach park slaying

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau

WAILUKU, Maui — A man accused of strangling a homeless woman to death was acquitted yesterday because of mental illness.

Dennis R. Love, 62, was committed by Maui Circuit Court Judge Joseph Cardoza for treatment at the Hawai'i State Hospital in Kane'ohe.

Love was accused of the May 24, 2000, robbery and murder of Nancy Sirovetz, 46, at Baldwin Beach Park in Pa'ia.

A jury deliberated for more than five hours before reaching a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The prosecution had argued that Love, although obviously mentally ill, also had the capacity to know right from wrong and to control his actions. Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani also argued that Love was coherent when he made a taped statement confessing to the slaying the day after Sirovetz was killed.

Love described approaching Sirovetz as she slept on a table in a beach pavilion and then strangling her with her sarong. He was arrested a short time later on the seventh green of nearby Maui Country Club golf course after attacking two police officers and smashing the windows of their police cars.

A few hours before the killing, police had seen Love naked from the waist down, and he had been arrested for disorderly conduct twice before May 24.

Friends said Love's behavior had changed in the months leading to the murder, and his appearance became dirty and disheveled. Wearing only a sweater, he drove his girlfriend's car into the ocean off Spreckelsville, and another time was found walking in the middle of Hana Highway in Ki'au. He told a police officer who removed him from the road that he was "the second coming of Christ.''

One psychiatrist who examined Love said he was grossly psychotic before and after the murder, and a state psychologist said he was substantially impaired, unable to understand the difference between right and wrong or to control his behavior.

"We're pleased the jury followed the law and decided that the proper place for him was at the hospital rather than the prison,'' said Deputy Public Defender Barry Porter.