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Suspect in Pearl City arson and burglaries pleads not guilty

By Gregg K. Kakesako

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:21 a.m. HST, Apr 16, 2012

  Jamm Aquino / jaquino@staradvertiser.com Michael Dahilig, left, made an initial appearance at District Court on Monday. Dahilig, 35, is accused of setting a Pearl City home on fire, resulting in the death of 97-year-old Betty Hagihara.

 

The 35-year Ewa Beach man accused of manslaughter, arson and several burglaries, including one that resulted in the death of a 97-year-old Pearl City woman in a fire last month, entered a plea of not guilty this morning in Circuit Court.

Michael P. Dahilig remains in custody in Oahu Community Corrections Center, unable to post $1 million bail.

Dahilig was indicted by an Oahu grand jury Wednesday and charged with manslaughter, arson, burglary, attempted burglary and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. 

He was arraigned this morning via a closed circuit television from OCCC.

Circuit Judge Richard Perkins set his trial for the week of  June 18 before Circuit Judge Randal Lee.

Last week, Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said Dahilig used a lighter torch in an attempt to break in to a storage shed at 1888 Hoo­ma­lolo St. on March 30. Dahilig allegedly tried to break into the same shed a day earlier. 

The shed caught fire, an alarm sounded and Dahilig fled, Kaneshiro said. The fire spread to the home. Betty Hagihara died in the fire. Two other people in the home escaped with the help of a neighbor. Kaneshiro said Hagihara died from smoke inhalation.

Police said Dahilig was seen by a neighbor searching the remnants of the building day after the fire. He is also charged with the burglaries of another home on the same street in September and March.

 Police said Dahilig tried to run Tuesday after police found him in Ewa Beach and tried to dump drugs and drug paraphernalia. 

The Pearl City home that burned down had been burglarized at least seven times. Five days before the fire, three locks had been placed on a the shed after someone tried to burn through a lock. The shed housed gardening tools and expensive  radio-controlled model airplanes. 

Dahilig has eight convictions in Hawaii, including three for burglary, one for robbery and two for drug offenses, according to court records. In April 2003, Dahilig was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a 2000 burglary case and a 1996 robbery case.

 Dahilig was paroled August 2007. He completed his sentences in October 2010.






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