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Man accused in fatal fire and burglaries appears in court

  • JAMM AQUINO
    CTY - Michael Dahilig, left, makes an initial appearance at District Court on Monday, April 9, 2012 in downtown Honolulu. Dahilig, 35, is accused of setting a Pearl City home on fire, killing 97-year-old Betty Hagihara. Dahilig has been charged with manslaughter, arson, three counts of burglary, one count of attempted burglary and two drug counts. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).
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A 35-year-old Ewa Beach man, accused of several burglaries and of setting a fire that killed a 97-year-old Pearl City woman last month, made his initial appearance in District Court this morning.

Michael P. Dahilig was charged Thursday with first-degree arson, manslaughter, three counts of first-degree burglary, one count of attempted burglary, promoting a dangerous drug and drug paraphernalia.

He remains in police custody in lieu of $1 million bail.

District Judge Leslie Hayashi set Dahilig’s preliminary hearing for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Dahilig is accused of setting fire to a home at 1888 Hoo­ma­lolo St. on March 30, which he allegedly burglarized a day earlier. Betty Hagihara, one of three people who lived in the home, died in the fire.

Police believe a neighbor saw Dahilig searching the remnants of the home a day after the fire. He also was charged with burglarizing another home on Hoomalolo Street in September and March. The March burglary was captured on a surveilance video and CrimeStoppers released a copy of the video on March 31 in an effort to generate tips. The video shows two suspects who covered their faces with shirts.

On Tuesday, police located Dahilig in Ewa Beach. Police said Dahilig tried to run from officers and attempted to dump drugs and drug paraphernalia. Detectives arrested him for arson and manslaughter after interviewing him.

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. He was sentenced in 2003 to two concurrent 10-year prison terms for two burglaries.

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