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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ex-police officer gets life for murder of wife

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — Former Kona police detective Albert Pacheco has been sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for "ambushing" his wife and shooting her to death two years ago.

Albert Pacheco

Deputy prosecutor Michael Udovic said Cathalene Pacheco, 43, was talking on the phone to one of her daughters when she was attacked on Jan. 4, 2002. Her last words were, "Albert, think of the kids," Udovic said.

The couple had two daughters and two sons, Udovic said. A lawyer for the family said the daughters were 16 and 17 at the time, and the sons were 5 and 7.

Big Island Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura sentenced Albert Pacheco, 48, on Monday to a mandatory sentence of life in prison with possibility of parole for second-degree murder, and imposed a 15-year minimum because a firearm was used.

Cathalene Ann Pacheco

Nakamura also imposed a separate, consecutive sentence of up to 20 years in prison for the separate offense of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. Pacheco must serve that 20-year term after he serves his murder sentence, Udovic said.

"I think the evidence really, clearly showed that he lured her to the location where he ambushed her," Udovic said. "It was all purposeful conduct on his part, calculated to cause her death."

The couple separated when Cathalene Pacheco, a real estate agent, moved out of their home in Waikoloa, and moved in with a friend on the same street, said Dennis Krueger, a lawyer for the children. Krueger said Cathalene Pacheco would go to the house in the mornings to help her sons get ready for school.

On the day of the murder, Albert asked Cathalene to come to his house to babysit their sons so he could go out that night, Udovic said. Before she reached the house, Albert rammed his county-subsidized car into Cathalene's van and shot her repeatedly.

Albert Pacheco resigned from the Big Island department a month after the murder, and pleaded guilty to the slaying in June 2004.

Cathalene Pacheco's children have sued the police department, alleging that police were negligent in hiring and supervising Pacheco; that Pacheco was mentally unstable and that the department should have known that; and that Pacheco should not have been carrying a firearm.

The suit also alleges the county is liable in the shooting because the murder was carried out with a county-owned firearm.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 935-3916.