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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 27, 2006

Life in prison for woman's murder

Advertiser staff

LIHU'E, Kaua'i A Kalaheo man who fatally stabbed an 18-year-old woman last year at Glass Beach near Port Allen has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Tourists found the body of Weslyn Jerves on Jan. 13, 2005. When first interviewed by police later that evening, Richard Costa, 37, denied taking the woman to Glass Beach. Several days later Costa confessed that he had given Jerves a ride from Hanama'ulu to the beach. He told police they argued after he tried to collect $20 Jerves owed him, and that the woman pulled a knife. The two fought over the weapon, Costa said, and he stabbed her several times and accidentally cut her neck when she tried to twist out of a headlock.

Costa also said he beat Jerves and left her alive at Glass Beach. But evidence presented at trial last month by prosecutors Craig De Costa and Jennifer Winn indicated the woman was dead when Costa ran over her leg with his 1989 Toyota sedan. Prosecutors also said DNA belonging to Jerves was recovered from Costa's car, and tire marks on the victim's body could be traced to the sedan.

In an April 24 verdict, Kaua'i jurors rejected Costa's claim that he acted in self-defense or was suffering from a mental disorder or an extreme emotional disturbance at the time of the killing. He was convicted of second-degree murder. He was sentenced Thursday by 5th Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe.