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Pflueger rejects Ka Loko plea deal; trial scheduled for Sept. 16

By Ken Kobayashi

LAST UPDATED: 12:21 p.m. HST, Apr 18, 2013

LIHUE, Kauai » Retired auto dealer James Pflueger has rejected a plea agreement and has chosen to go to trial on manslaughter charges related to deaths of seven people swept away when the Ka Loko dam breached on Kauai’s north shore seven years ago.

At a hearing this morning, Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano scheduled the trial for Sept. 16.

Pflueger, 87, is charged with seven counts of manslaughter for the seven people killed in March 2006 when hundreds of millions gallons of water from the Ka Loko reservoir rushed downstream to Kauai’s north shore.

He’s accused of filling in the dam’s safety spillway and disregarding the risk that his dam might break and kill people. His lawyers have argued that the filling of the spillway was not the cause of the breach.

Manslaughter carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Pflueger had been scheduled to go on trial last year, but the trial was postponed as state and Pfluegers’ lawyers tried to negotiate a plea deal.

Valenciano was scheduled to hear the plea agreement today, but the hearing was switched to the setting of the trial date after plea negotiations failed to produce a deal.

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