Slain girl's uncle opts for silence on stand
By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer
Dennis Cacatian, 42, notified Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall, with the jurors out of the courtroom, that he was basing his decision on advice from his lawyer.
In testimony this week, Aki accused Cacatian, Kahealani's uncle, of killing the girl on Dec. 10, 2002, by stabbing her, beating her with a pipe and smashing her face with a large rock at a state park overlooking 'Aiea.
Cacatian has not been charged in the case and has previously denied any involvement in the slaying. The prosecution alleges Aki killed the girl on his own.
But instead of taking the witness stand and denying that he killed Kahealani which would have bolstered the prosecution's case against Aki Cacatian said he would invoke his constitutional right.
Deputy Public Defender Todd Eddins said he will still seek to have Cacatian placed on the witness stand today.
Aki, 21, is accused of murdering Kahealani, an 'Aiea Elementary School sixth-grader, who was last seen Dec. 10, 2002, near her family's apartment in the Pu'uwai Momi public housing complex in Halawa.
Her disappearance led to a massive search. A hiker found her body off the 'Aiea Loop Trail three days later.
Aki gave several statements to police, including one confessing to the murder. But Aki has testified that it was a false confession and that Cacatian was the killer. Aki said Cacatian threatened him at gunpoint and told him not to tell anyone or he and his family would die.
Cacatian was called by the defense to testify about the case, but instead disclosed his decision not to testify yesterday.
Cacatian's lawyer, federal Deputy Public Defender Michael Weight, said he advised his client he was in a "lose-lose situation" and someone would accuse him of lying no matter what he said on the witness stand. Weight said he told Cacatian the Fifth Amendment was an option, but the decision was up to Cacatian.
In an attempt to support the contention that Cacatian was the killer, Eddins yesterday also tried to introduce into evidence a statement by Eldefonso Cacatian, Cacatian's brother. In the statement, Eldefonso Cacatian claims his brother told him he killed Kahealani.
But Judge Crandall deferred the ruling on whether the statement can be introduced until she receives more information about the circumstances surrounding the alleged conversation.
During the trial yesterday, Keith Marini, a Honolulu police officer assigned to the specialized services division testified that after a Feb. 6 raid on Dennis Cacatian's home in 'Aiea, which stemmed from a federal weapons investigation, Dennis Cacatian told him that he wasn't going to find any "guns or bracelets."
But Marini testified he told Dennis Cacatian that "nobody said anything about guns or bracelets."
Kahealani's gold bracelets have never been recovered.
Dennis Cacatian was recently sentenced in federal court in a case involving illegal rifle magazines recovered in the search. But prosecutors contended nothing was found to link Cacatian to Kahealani's murder.
Aki's trial resumes today.
Reach Peter Boylan at 535-8110 or at email@example.com