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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kauai man sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife


By Michael Levine
The Garden Island

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Joseph Hoapili Sr.

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LĪHU'E, Kaua'i 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 Thursday as family members packed the courthouse.

"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 before the sentencing.

Calling her father a "coward" for stabbing his wife in the dark early in the morning of March 3, 2009, Vistante said that while she loves him and never hated him, she was at the hearing to seek justice for her mother.

Asked by 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 Kaua'i because of the "heinous" nature of the offense, but has been a "model inmate" in the past year and has realized that what he did was "horrible and wrong."

Prosecuting attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho said Hoapili's history of domestic violence, which included bruises and one incident with a telephone cord, came to a head when the 51-year-old killed his wife of 35 years by stabbing her 18 times, 14 in the heart area. The attack began while she lay asleep, 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 used to cut meat for cooking was pushed into her chest.

In an earlier court hearing, police detective Joseph Adric testified that Hoapili told him that the couple had argued earlier in the night about his suspicion of her infidelity.

Iseri-Carvalho said Thursday that an extensive investigation after the murder did not turn up any evidence of an affair.

In the days before 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 Kaua'i 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.