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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 14, 2004

Apparent overdose fatal to key witness

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

If lawyers for Christopher Aki succeed in winning a new trial for him, they will have to proceed without a key witness.

Aki, 21, was found guilty on Wednesday of manslaughter for the Dec. 10, 2002, slaying of 11-year-old Kahealani "Kahea" Indreginal, the half sister of Aki's then-girlfriend Tanya Mamala-Tumbaga.

During Aki's trial on a second-degree murder charge, city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle claimed Aki beat the girl to death in a crystal methamphetamine rage a day after smoking the illicit drug with two friends.

But Aki's lawyer, Todd Eddins, claimed that Aki falsely confessed to the crime and that the girl was killed by her uncle, Dennis Cacatian, after she and Aki went to a park at the top of 'Aiea Heights to confront Cacatian about molesting the girl.

Cacatian has denied any role in the girl's death, but when he was called as a witness in Aki's trial, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to testify.

Eddins had hoped to call Eldefonso Cacatian Jr., Dennis Cacatian's brother, as a defense witness based on Eldefonso's claim that Dennis had confessed to him that he took part in killing the girl.

But on the day that Eldefonso Cacatian was supposed to testify, it was discovered he had been taken to The Queen's Medical Center for treatment of an apparent drug overdose.

At the time, Eddins said he was on life support and not expected to recover. He died Saturday.

During the trial, Eddins asked presiding Judge Virginia Crandall for a hear-say exemption so that a statement Eldefonso Cacatian is said to have made to police about his brother's alleged involvement in the girl's killing could be used as evidence in Aki's defense.

Carlisle strenuously objected, and Crandall denied the request.

Reach David Waite at dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8030.