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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, January 11, 2002

Robbery called motive in cabbie murder

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Punchbowl cab driver accused of killing a fellow driver three years ago was described by a prosecutor yesterday as a brutal, scheming killer who bludgeoned his victim to death and then stabbed him repeatedly with a hunting knife to finish the job.

City deputy prosecutor Christopher Van Marter told a jury in Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario's courtroom that evidence will show Keith Murauskas, 44, was desperate for money and enlisted another cab driver to help him rob and kill Paul Salazar, 33.

Salazar was found lying in a pool of blood inside his Magellan Avenue apartment April 5, 1999.

The robbery and murder began to unravel, however, after Murauskas' accomplice, Edward Wallace Martin, 30, called police moments after Murauskas had left the dead man's apartment, Van Marter said.

He said Murauskas was arrested the following day in the Pacific Palisades area and had a hunting knife and $45,000 on him at the time.

Murauskas' lawyer, Keith Shigetomi, told the jury that Martin killed Salazar and immediately realized that he couldn't get away with the slaying. He then decided to blame Murauskas, Shigetomi said.

Martin made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty in August 1999 to killing Salazar, Shigetomi said. In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to seek a prison term of no more than 20 years for Martin and arranged for him to live in a police "safe house" on a $500-a-month stipend while waiting to testify against Murauskas, Shigetomi said.

He urged the jury to ignore the testimony of Martin when he is called as a witness, saying the testimony "was bought and paid for" by the prosecution.