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Art collaborator has kind words for accused murderer

A 59-year-old homeless man accused of murder is a brilliant person who helped create an art exhibit currently on display at the Hawaii State Art Museum, a friend attests.

David Orpin was charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of a 70-year-old homeless man in the parking lot of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Manoa on Wednesday.

The man, who still has not been not identified, died of blunt force injuries to his head.

Orpin is being held at Oahu Community Correctional Center, unable to post $100,000 bail.

According to KHON, a police affidavit said Orpin walked up to the main police station about 1:40 a.m. Wednesday and asked for a drink of water, then said he may have to be arrested for murder.

Orpin told police an unknown man bothered him on the church grounds on Monday, the document said. The next night, the same man harassed him again and Orpin said he punched him. 

Police went to the church and found the lifeless man in the parking lot.

Gaye Chan, chairwoman of the University of Hawaii’s Department of Art and Art History, said Orpin is an ethical person and she worries about him because he doesn’t have family here.

“I want to make sure he has what he needs,” she said. “People are shocked. People are worried about him. They want to do something for him.”

She attended Orpin’s bail hearing on Friday but wasn’t able to speak with him and can’t call him because she’s not family.

Chan said Orpin helped her create the bins for Eating in Public, a project on display at the Hawaii State Art Museum until July.

Eating in Public tries to reduce the waste by creating free stores where people can take or leave items. The project has several components, such as recycling bins and a “free store,” a shelf to leave or pick up items.

The project has about 200 wire recycling bins around the city. Orpin built about 100 of the 300 wire bins in the museum display.

Chan met Orpin through his interest in her project, and he soon volunteered to make 100 of the bins. 

“He really improved the design of the bins,” she said, adding that he tied off wires so people wouldn’t get hurt or observed the use of bins for more effective locations.

“He’s really into detail and perfection,” she said.

She said he has lived in Manoa Valley for years and is often seen reading at UH’s Sinclair Library.

“He’s very private,” she said. “I really respect the way he thinks through things. He’s not insane, he’s just eccentric.”

She said she worries Orpin may accept the harshest penalty even though he was only trying to defend himself and she wants to be sure he has responsible and fair representation.

“I’m sure he’s very regretful of what happened,” Chan said. “I’m sure he did it in self-defense.”

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