A defendant awaiting trial in state court in the killing of a man whose body was found in pieces along a dark, secluded road near Mililani Memorial Park pleaded no contest to murder Monday.
Bryan Suitt, 47, is charged with the September 2013 murder of 34-year-old Alex Gonzales.
Jury selection had been slated to begin this week.
At a trial call Monday, Suitt pleaded no contest without the benefit of a plea deal. Circuit Judge Karen Ahn scheduled sentencing for October.
The mandatory punishment for second-degree murder is life in prison with the possibility of parole. The Hawaii Paroling Authority will decide when Suitt will be eligible.
Based on pretrial discussions, testimony and court documents, the state would have presented the trial jury with some gruesome evidence.
Honolulu police found Gonzales’ remains Sept. 15 and 16, 2013, in trash bags along Mililani Memorial Park Road and buried in a shallow grave. Police also said they found human flesh in a hard-shell suitcase Suitt had recently purchased at Walmart’s Keeaumoku store.
Defense lawyer Lee Hayakawa had told Ahn there was no need to show the jurors pictures of the body parts because Suitt was going admit to dismembering the remains but deny that he killed Gonzales.
Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell had said he intended to show the jurors pictures of the remains as they were found to show that the body was dismembered and that they contained 55 stab wounds.
The Honolulu Medical Examiner said the stab wounds were the cause of death.
Bell also said he intended to show the jurors the kind of saw that police believe Suitt used to dismember Gonzales and pictures of cut marks made by the saw. A forensic anthropologist used those photos to compare with cut marks found on Gonzales’ remains.
In addition, Bell intended to show photographs to depict the condition of the body, which were used to suggest when Gonzales was murdered. Forensic entomologists calculate the time of death by the types of maggots and other bugs on the body.
The indictment charging Suitt with the murder says he killed Gonzales between Aug. 17, 2013, and mid-September. That’s the time period, police officials said, Suitt began renting the Waikiki apartment where officials believe Gonzales was murdered and dismembered.
Ahn rejected some pictures Bell had wanted to show the jurors and ordered others she did approve trimmed to remove portions she felt were not necessary for the state to prove its case.
Hayakawa had earlier told Ahn that Suitt was considering a self-defense argument based on the kind of drugs found in Gonzales’ tissue.
Bell said the autopsy showed the presence of cocaine and other drugs, which he declined to disclose because the autopsy remains sealed.