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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, September 15, 2007

Accused Hawaii pig killer innocent, friends testify

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Staff Writer

The man accused of killing a pet pig in Mililani last year was not responsible for the crime, his girlfriend and a friend testified yesterday.

But at least three other witnesses placed Joseph B. Calarruda V at the scene of the crime, and the renter living on a farm with the 300-pound pig, Porky, identified Calarruda as the person who watched as several dogs mauled the pig to death in October 2006 on a private farm, prosecutors said.

Calarruda, who is charged with felony theft of livestock, faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted in the trial expected to continue next week before Circuit Judge Richard Pollack.

Calarruda's girlfriend, Rickelle Sylva, yesterday testified that she and Calarruda were eating dinner together at their home in Wai'anae when the killing occurred. Calarruda's friend, Don Pogtis Jr., also testified that he was the one responsible for the pig's killing.

Prosecutors, however, say Calarruda was the pig hunter in the area on the night of Oct. 22, 2006, who followed his dogs onto the private land and watched as Porky, who had been captured as a piglet and raised as a pet for six years by farm manager Aaron O'Brien, was slaughtered by the dogs.

Calarruda was positively identified in a police photo lineup by a man living on the lychee farm, prosecutors said. The man, Michael Chabala, told police that he begged the intruder to call off his dogs, telling him that it was a pet, not a wild animal.

Calarruda denies being part of any hunting party, and Sylva yesterday testified that he was with her for almost the entire day and night when Porky was killed.

Sylva is the owner of a 1987 Nissan pickup truck equipped with a dog cage that police said was found parked in tall grass near the farm at about 10:30 p.m. on the night Porky was killed.

Several hours later, police first stopped another pickup truck they believe was driven by Sylva, then stopped her Nissan pickup truck, whose driver identified himself as Joseph Calarruda, according to court documents.

Both now deny they were in Mililani at the time.

During a subsequent investigation, Calarruda blamed the killing on two other men, and one of them testified in court yesterday that he was responsible for the crime.

Pogtis said in court and in an earlier statement to prosecutors that he was the pig hunter who followed the dogs onto the farm where Porky, who had appeared in the television series "Lost," was killed.

Prosecutors, however, said there is no other evidence that Pogtis is involved and no witnesses who can place him in the area at the time of the killing.

The trial is expected to resume Tuesday.

Reach Mike Leidemann at mleidemann@honoluluadvertiser.com.