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Posted on: 08/28/1999

Jury convicts on murder, kidnapping, sex assault

By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawaii — Franklin Pauline Jr. was convicted yesterday of raping, kidnapping and murdering Dana Ireland, bringing to a close one piece of a notorious case that has haunted Hawaii for nearly eight years.

Pauline showed no emotion as court clerk Linda Mende read the jury’s verdict: guilty of second-degree murder, kidnapping and first-degree sexual assault.

The reading of the verdict was televised live statewide by four Honolulu stations, which interrupted their regular programming to cover the conclusion of the six-week trial.

There was quiet relief from the parents and sister of Ireland, and quiet shock from Pauline’s family members, who sat only a few feet away in the packed courtroom in the state office building.

Judge Riki May Amano ordered Pauline, 26, to return for sentencing Oct. 14. Prosecutors are expected to push for extended and consecutive terms that could lead to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“It’s the beginning of closure for the community and the Irelands,” said first deputy prosecutor Charlene Iboshi.

Ireland, 23, a recent Virginia college graduate, was biking in a remote area of Puna on Christmas Eve, 1991, when she was hit by a car, raped and beaten. She died on Christmas Day.

Nearly six years passed before any arrests were made in the case, which was marked by questionable police work and numerous procedural missteps, leading to complaints by John and Louise Ireland that authorities were not aggressively searching for their daughter’s killers.

“It was an intense case,” Hawaii County Prosecutor Jay Kimura said after the verdict. “It’s difficult at times to handle some of the criticism, where you can’t comment or it’s inappropriate to comment or you can’t explain yourself. ... The police, the prosecutors, we do our best.”

Despite the feelings expressed by Iboshi and others in the community that the conviction could lead to closure in the painful case, Louise Ireland said she didn’t share that opinion.

“There is no closure for me. Justice has to be done,” she said.

John Ireland said he didn’t think his daughter would be satisfied with the outcome. “I don’t think Dana would be happy. She was the type that would feel for the convict’s family and probably for him also,” he said.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated 14 hours over 21/2 days before reaching their decision.

Pauline was the first of three suspects to stand trial in the case. Albert Ian Schweitzer, 27, is due to stand trial in November. His younger brother, Shawn, 23, will be tried next March.

Amano polled each juror to determine whether they concurred on the three guilty verdicts.

Clifford Hunt of Honolulu, Pauline’s court-appointed attorney, said he would appeal.

“We had hoped the jury would see there was a lot of reasonable doubt,” he said. As for his client: “I think he took it very well, under the circumstances.”

Hunt has 30 days after Amano’s sentencing to ask the Hawaii Supreme Court for a review of the trial.

Joe Gonsalves, one of several half brothers of Pauline, said he believed that Pauline was a “victim” of the legal system. He said the jury shouldn’t have overlooked the lack of DNA evidence directly tying his brother to Ireland.

Pauline, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for an unrelated sexual assault, testified in his own defense. He told jurors he had fabricated his confession to help a brother facing drug conspiracy charges and to get transferred from Halawa prison, where he had run up drug debts.

Prosecutors argued that Pauline’s confession included accurate details about the crime that only the attackers could have known. Prosecutors said he recanted his story only after he realized that he was not going to get special treatment for coming forward.

Pauline’s former girlfriend also testified that Pauline had owned a T-shirt soaked with Ireland’s blood found where the victim was abandoned. Family members, friends and prison cellmates also testified that Pauline had confessed to them, and jurors heard tapes from interviews with reporters in which Pauline confessed.

Jurors heard from more than 50 witnesses, some of whom offered conflicting expert testimony on whether the attack on Ireland could have taken place as described in Pauline’s 1994 confession.

Jury forewoman Gwen “Lisa” Kaneshiro yesterday would not say specifically what convinced them of Pauline’s guilt, only that the process of reaching the verdict was emotionally draining.

“It was hard, hard work. We truly felt we reached a just decision,” Kaneshiro said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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