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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Ko Olina man gets life sentence in wife's death

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

A Ko Olina man who was found guilty in June of murdering his wife in April 2000 was sentenced yesterday to a mandatory term of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Kenneth Wakisaka, 46, continued bitterly to maintain his innocence in the death of his wife, Shirline Wakisaka, 54. He told Circuit Judge Marie Milks he was "disgusted" by the jury's guilty verdict.

Wakisaka claimed at trial that his wife was mentally ill and bent on taking her own life via a drug overdose.

But city Deputy Prosecutor Dan Oyasato portrayed the couple's relationship as troubled. Prosecution witnesses said Wakisaka had taken out a $100,000 insurance policy on his wife about a month before she died at St. Francis Medical Center West from what hospital workers thought were complications from a suicide attempt.

Investigators began to suspect foul play when Wakisaka started hounding the city Medical Examiners Office almost daily to see whether his wife's autopsy had been completed and had found any indication that Shirlene Wakisaka might have been strangled.

At yesterday's hearing, Wakisaka told Milks he would have asked for a jury-waived trial if that option had been discussed with him.

Milks said she would honor the verdict, and that "the result might not have been any different" if she had heard the case without a jury.

The judge said Wakisaka's attorney, Mal Gillin, must have discussed the option of a jury-waived trial with him, and that a signed form must have indicated a decision to have a jury.

Wakisaka, who told Milks at the hearing that God knew the truth about his innocence, turned to a small group of family members and friends after the hearing and told them he planned to appeal and that "the truth will be revealed."

The Hawaii Paroling Authority will decide when he is eligible for parole.