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No new trial for man convicted of Maui murder

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Steven Capobianco stands as he is declared guilty in his trial in Wailuku. Jurors who found Capobianco guilty of murder in the death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend communicated with each other illegally over the phone, his defense attorney alleged Monday in arguing for a new trial.

A judge denied a new trial today for a man convicted of murder in the Maui death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend after his lawyer alleged juror and prosecutorial misconduct.

A juror spoke after-hours over the phone with at least nine jurors, argued Jon Apo, who represents Steven Capobianco.

“One juror communicated one-on-one with practically every other juror except the foreperson,” Apo said during a hearing streamed live online by Akaku: Maui Community Media. That juror “went rogue” from the mandated process of deliberations, Apo said.

Second Circuit Chief Judge Joseph Cardoza said the juror phoned other jurors to inform them she wanted to speak with the court about her concerns regarding a note saying the jury was deadlocked. That doesn’t justify a new trial, Cardoza ruled.

The jury found Capobianco guilty of murder and arson in December for the death of Carly “Charli” Scott. She was five months pregnant with Capobianco’s child when she disappeared in 2014.

Apo said Capobianco didn’t get a fair trial because the judge allowed jurors to take a one-week break during deliberations in Maui’s highest-profile case and because of prosecutorial misconduct.

Jurors spent more than half a year in the trial, and it was fair to give them a break during the Christmas holidays, Cardoza said, noting that it’s “unrealistic to expect jurors to surrender their entire lives to jury service.”

Comments a prosecutor made during closing arguments that the defense took issue with were stricken from the record, Cardoza said.

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