Kauai man who stabbed wife to death sentenced to life in prison
By Michael Levine
The Garden Island
LIHUE — The Kress Street man who killed his wife last year, stabbing her 18 times because he suspected her of infidelity, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole yesterday as family members packed the 5th Circuit courthouse in Lihue.
“I am confused. What do I call you? Do I call you ‘Dad,’ or do I call you ‘the man who killed my mother?’” Raylynn Vistante, eldest daughter of Joseph Hoapili Sr. and Fredlynn Hoapili, said in court prior to the sentencing.
Calling her father a “coward” for stabbing his wife in the dark early in the morning of March 3, 2009, Vistante said while she loves him and never hated him, she attended the hearing to seek justice for her mother.
Asked by 5th Circuit Chief Judge Randal Valenciano if he wanted to make a statement before being sentenced, Hoapili first hoped to address his family directly but was told he could not turn around to face them and would instead address the court while they listened.
“I regret every single day what I did, and I have to live with this pain for the rest of my life,” he said. “I’m truly sorry for what I did.”
Deputy Public Defender John Calma said Hoapili was originally defiant after the incident, and at one point asked for a transfer away from Kauai due to the “heinous” nature of the offense, but has been a “model inmate” in the last year and has realized that what he did was “horrible and wrong.”
Calma said the change in attitude “will not mitigate the severity of his crime,” and Hoapili cannot “un-ring the bell” for what happened last March 3, but read a statement from Fredlynn Hoapili herself in asking for leniency for her murderer.
In 2008, when Joseph Hoapili Sr. was sentenced by Valenciano to 15 days in prison for third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, his wife submitted a letter to the court calling her husband a “very loving man” and asking that the family’s bread-winner not be incarcerated for long, despite a long history of domestic violence in the Hoapili household.
Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho said that history, which included bruises and one incident with a telephone cord, came to a head when the 51-year-old Hoapili killed his wife of 35 years by stabbing her 18 times, 14 in the heart area. The attack began while she lay asleep, rendering her unable to defend herself and able to muster only a desperate plea as her last words: “John, help. John, help.”
The Hoapilis’ adult son John, asleep in a nearby room, broke into his parents’ locked bedroom and saw them struggling as a knife — a large kitchen blade the family had used to cut meat during cooking — was pushed into her chest.
In the preliminary court hearing, Kauai Police Department Detective Joseph Adric, the lead investigator on the case, testified that Hoapili told him that the couple had argued earlier in the night about his suspicion of her infidelity. Iseri-Carvalho said yesterday that an extensive investigation after the murder did not turn up any evidence of an affair.
In the days prior to the murder, Hoapili had been following his wife around as she went to work as a bus driver for Akita Enterprises and to a second weekend job at Kauai Palms, Iseri-Carvalho said, because he did not want her to go to the airport and leave. Friends told investigators they noticed a change in Fredlynn and that they could “feel the fear.”
“Do you call that ‘love’ or do you call that ‘obsessed?’” Vistante said.
“The brutality of your actions ... was a picture of an obsessed person out of control,” Valenciano said before announcing Hoapili’s sentence. The judge told Hoapili that the incident would leave an impact across generations in his family, and said, “you’re going to be a black mark in that line.”
Initial reports implied Hoapili was high on methamphetamine at the time of the incident, but blood tests indicated he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, attorneys said.
“This was just an intentional act carried out in a brutal nature,” Valenciano said. “You know, Mr. Hoapili, I’m not going to wish you good luck. I normally do, but not in this situation.”
Earlier, Vistante read a letter from some family members asking that her father be given a life term without the possibility of parole, but the terms of the sentence handed down by Valenciano make Hoapili, a repeat offender with a prior drug conviction, eligible for possible release after he serves a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.
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