The petition calls for the release of a Hawaiian man convicted of murder in 1991


HONOLULU – A motion outlining new evidence in one of Hawaii’s largest homicide cases is asking a judge Monday to free a Hawaiian man who has spent more than 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting, kidnapping and killing a white woman on the Big Island.

On Christmas Eve 1991, 23-year-old Dana Ireland was found barely alive in bushes along a fishing road in Pune, a remote area of ​​the Big Island. She was sexually assaulted and beaten and later died at a Hilo hospital. The bike he was riding was found several miles away and appeared to have been hit by a car.

The murder of the blond-haired, blue-eyed visitor from Virginia drew national attention and remained unsolved for years, putting intense pressure on police to find the killer.

“Anytime you have a white, female victim, it gets more attention than people of color and Native Hawaiians,” said Kenneth Lawson, co-director of the Hawaii Innocence Project. “Parents, of course, are getting more and more angry. … There was an insurmountable pressure to solve this case. And this is when mistakes happen. Some are intentional, some are not.

Lawson’s team, assisted by the Innocence Project in New York, is representing Albert “Ian” Schweitzer, the last of three Hawaiian men convicted in Ireland’s death.

DNA evidence in the case was previously known to have been attributed to an unknown person and the three convicts were denied as sources. But what’s new, according to the petition, is that the “Jimmy Z” T-shirt found near Ireland and soaked in his blood belonged to the same stranger — not one of the three men, as prosecutors said.

Additionally, according to the petition, new tire tread analysis concluded that Schweitzer’s Volkswagen Beetle did not leave any tire marks where Ireland and his bicycle were found. And the forensic odontologist concluded that the wound on his left chest was not a bite wound as previously thought.

“On today’s retrial, the jury will not convict Mr. Schweitzer of sexually assaulting and murdering Ms. Ireland,” the petition states. “In fact, the prosecutor would not even arrest Mr. Schweitzer for this crime.”

The likelihood that the three men engaged in sexual assault and left no trace of biological evidence, even through advanced forensics, is “extremely unlikely,” the petition said.

At Tuesday’s hearing, a judge will consider a defense request to overturn Schweitzer’s conviction and free him.

Irish relatives could not immediately be reached for comment on the petition.

In 2019, Schweitzer’s attorneys and the Hawaii District Attorney reached a “sentencing integrity agreement” to retry the case. Lawson said it was the first of its kind in Hawaii, which is often used to review questionable convictions and protect against future wrongdoing.

Much of the Irish case is detailed in a document filed with the motion that lists the facts presented by defense attorneys and prosecutors.

In 1994, the police made what they considered a major breakthrough. A man accused of a cocaine conspiracy has called police and said his half-brother, Frank Polin Jr., witnessed the attack in Ireland. .

Police have questioned Pauline, who has a 10-year sentence for unrelated sexual assault and robbery. He claimed that brothers Ian and Sean Schweitzer attacked and killed Ireland. But he was interrogated at least seven times and gave inconsistent accounts each time — ultimately incriminating himself, according to the arraignment document.

Both Schweitzer and Paulin were charged in 1997, despite a lack of evidence linking them to the murders.

Charges were dropped at one point because the three men were ruled out as the source of sperm found in Ireland and on a hospital stretcher sheet – but they were charged again after another whistleblower, Ian Schweitzer, claimed Pauline had confessed to raping him in prison. and killed. Ireland.

Pauline later told police she had given details of Ireland’s murder to drop drug charges against her brother.

In an interview in prison, AOn &E’s “American Justice,” Pauline compared her story to that of the boy who cried wolf. “It wasn’t me,” he says in a thick Hawaiian pidgin accent. But when he started telling the truth, he said, no one believed him.

Shawn Schweitzer in 2000 agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter and kidnapping and get about a year of credit and five years of probation after a jury saw Pauline and her brother convicted.

In October, Sean Schweitzer met with prosecutors and withdrew his plea. According to the plea deal, he pleaded guilty because his “parents didn’t want to lose another son and encouraged Shawn Schweitzer to do what he had to do to get home and not suffer the same fate as his brother.”

He “feels great guilt for accepting a confession and pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit and falsely accusing his brother,” the document said.

A polygraph test in November showed he was telling the truth when he pleaded not guilty to the murder, the document said.

Pauline was killed by an inmate in a New Mexico prison in 2015, and Ian Schweitzer is serving a 130-year sentence in an Arizona prison due to lack of space in a Hawaii prison.

“Sir. Schweitzer spent more than two decades wrongfully imprisoned based on the evidence of unreliable informants and testimony about accident reconstruction,” the petition states. “Given the new evidence of his innocence, it would be unconscionable to continue his imprisonment.”

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