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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Killer gets life term in prison

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer

A man convicted of stabbing his girlfriend to death last year asked for forgiveness yesterday before he was sentenced to a life term in prison with the possibility of parole.

Ronante Aquino, 40, pleaded guilty in February to a murder charge in the death of Zenaida Dumaslan, 39. Her body was found with 40 to 50 wounds and cuts in the kitchen of her apartment on Ho'oli Circle in Pearl City on July 22, 2006.

But after the sentencing, Vic Dumaslan, cousin of the victim, said it would be hard to accept the apology from Aquino, a man they once welcomed into the family.

Dumaslan said he could not forgive him, "not at this moment."

As part of a plea agreement, the prosecution agreed to recommend to the Hawai'i Paroling Authority that Aquino spend no more than 30 years in prison before he becomes eligible for parole.

The defense agreed to recommend no less than 30 years.

Circuit Judge Steven Alm also ordered Aquino to pay $4,000 in restitution for funeral and burial costs.

The case was one of at least five publicized domestic violence-related deaths from January to July last year.

City Deputy Prosecutor Rom Trader told the judge the stabbing was a "senseless, needless" crime that resulted in Dumaslan's "grisly death."

He also said her son, then 5, was at the apartment and probably "saw and heard things" that no one should ever experience.

The victim suffered 40 to 50 wounds and cuts, some superficial but many serious, Trader said.

Vic Dumaslan said the family is "angered" that Aquino "pretty much" took away the future of Zenaida Dumaslan's four children, including three older ones in the Philippines.

Aquino submitted a written statement that said he loved his girlfriend and he knows one day he will have to face God and his girlfriend and will ask for their forgiveness. The statement was read in court by his lawyer.

When pressed by Alm as to why stabbed her, Aquino, through an Ilocano interpreter, said he was drunk and she told him "bad words."

Aquino's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Darcia Forester, said the two argued about finances and their relationship before the stabbing.

"There's no good reason," she said.

She said her client did "something unspeakable" and feels "truly sorry."

Vic Dumaslan said his cousin's young son is now being cared for by relatives.

Reach Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@honoluluadvertiser.com.