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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 5, 2003

Kailua man faces retrial in death of wife in 1996

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Kailua man whose 2000 murder conviction was overturned this week by the Hawai'i Supreme Court will be tried again on the same murder charge, prosecutors said yesterday.

Danny Haili was convicted of second-degree murder after prosecutors said he shot his wife, Philimena, 11 times in the couple's carport on June 1, 1996. Haili didn't contest that he shot his wife, but his attorney argued that Haili did so because he suffered from extreme mental and emotional disturbance after learning that his wife was leaving him.

Sam King Jr., Haili's attorney, argued at trial that his client should have been convicted of the lesser manslaughter charge, which in 1996 carried a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Haili appealed the verdict and said the prosecution used hearsay evidence from family members and friends of Philimena Haili that established the defendant's state of mind leading up to the shooting. King objected to the testimony because he said he could not cross-examine its source, which was Philimena Haili.

The Supreme Court this week agreed with King. King has said Haili is willing to plead to the manslaughter charge.

But city Deputy Prosecutor Maurice Arrisgado said his office will not settle for anything less than another murder conviction. Arrisgado was assigned the new case yesterday.

"They can make whatever offer they want on a plea deal, but as far as our office is concerned, we're not going to give him a manslaughter deal. That's only 10 years for the life of a woman whose life was cut short for no good reason."

Arrisgado said the prosecution still has a solid case even though it cannot present the hearsay evidence. He said Haili threatened to kill Philimena and her male friend, who would be available to testify.

"If you look at just the facts of this case, this woman was executed," Arrisgado said. "He put six bullets into her, and did he stop there? No, he went back and reloaded. What does that tell you? This is not a guy who is out of his gourd. This is an execution killing. So we're taking him back to trial."

Former Deputy Prosecutor Lynne McGivern prosecuted two of Haili's murder trials (the first ended in a hung jury in 1998). McGivern said the justices determined that the hearsay testimony was not "trustworthy" because they were not made under oath or to someone who is reliable, such as a law enforcement officer or domestic violence counselor.

McGivern, who is in private practice, said she was troubled by the ruling because often victims of domestic violence do not confide with people they don't know.

"The problem with that analysis is that the confidants of a domestic violence victim are often people who are not within the system because many victims do not report abuse," she said. "So the court's decision is inconsistent with the realities of domestic violence dynamics."

Arrisgado said he did not know when the new trial would be scheduled.

Reach Curtis Lum at 525-8025 or culum@honoluluadvertiser.com