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Capobianco Trial: Murder was “Heinous”

Wendy Osher · January 3, 2017, 10:50 AM HST (Updated January 3, 2017, 2:08 PM) · 19 Comments
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Steven Capobianco. PC: by Wendy Osher. Maui Now graphic.

UPDATE: 1.3.17

The jury in the state vs Capobianco trial has answered “Yes” to the question of whether the murder of Carly “Charli” Scott was “especially heinous, atrocious and cruel.”

The jury’s response means Capobianco qualifies for a sentence of life in prison without parole.

The decision came after about an hour of deliberations, which began at 10:05 this morning, and concluded at around 11:18 a.m.

The defendant has been ordered to return on March 24, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. for sentencing.

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Previous Post:

Steven Capobianco’s reaction following the unanimous reading of the verdict for the enhanced sentencing charge. PC: 1.3.17 by Wendy Osher

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The jury returned today, for additional proceedings in the state vs Capobianco murder trial.

Steven Capobianco was found guilty last week of second degree murder and second degree arson in the death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend Carly “Charli” Scott.

The jury started deliberations this morning on whether the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the murder was “especially heinous, atrocious and cruel.”

The jury’s response will determine whether or not Capobianco qualifies for a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera shows the jury the multiple holes left in the abdomen area of a black skirt found at Nuaʻailua Bay. The clothing was one of the hundreds of pieces of evidence presented during the trial. PC: 1.3.17 by Wendy Osher.

According to the juror instructions read by Maui Chief Judge Joseph Cardoza, the jury must determine that a consciousless and pitiless crime occurred in which the victim suffered unnecessary torture. According to the instructions, five material elements must be established in order for a conviction on the final allegation including the following: (1)  the defendant was 18 years or older at the time of the murder; (2) the murder was a consciousless or pitiless crime; (3) the victim suffered unnecessary torture; (4) the defendant inflicted unnecessary torture on the victim; and (5) the defendant did so intentionally or knowingly as to the foregoing elements.

Judge Cardoza explained that unnecessary torture is defined as the infliction of extreme physical or mental suffering, beyond that which necessarily accompanies the underlying killing.  It encompasses more than the infliction of a fatal injury.

Judge Cardoza explained that the jury may come back with an answer of yes or no, and that the decision must be unanimous.  The deliberations on the final allegation began at 10:05 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.  By 11:18 a.m., Maui Now received word that a decision had been reached.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Jon Apo argued that, “The more stab wounds, the quicker the onset of death.” He said, “The quicker the onset of death, the less suffering.”  He continued telling the jury, “You may not like that, but that is common sense and reason.”

Prosecuting attorney Robert Rivera showed jurors the black skirt that was recovered from Nuaʻailua and said the knife was “plunged” in “time and time again.” He said “it’s almost unimaginable how much she would have suffered,” saying suffering included both mental pain and psychological anguish.

**Check back for updates here, which will be posted as developments occur.  

Case History/Background:

Steven Capobianco is standing trial for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Carly “Charli” Scottand for setting her vehicle on fire in February of 2014.

Scott was 27-years-old and five months pregnant at the time with an unborn child fathered by the defendant.  Capobianco pleaded not guilty to the charges, but was found guilty on both counts on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016.

The court is still reviewing alleged aggravated circumstances for enhanced sentencing.

The defendant is the last person known to have seen Scott alive.  In the days following Charli Scott’s disappearance, Capobianco had done an interview with police in which he said Scott had picked him up on the night of Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, and dropped him off at his truck that he said got stuck in Keʻanae on Feb. 8, 2014.

According to the account, both headed back to Haʻikū, with Scott following Capobianco in case his vehicle broke down again.  Scott was reported missing the next night on Feb. 10, 2014.

In closing arguments, the defense suggested that the story Capobianco told police could have been lie to cover up a drug deal involving marijuana.  Defense Attorney Jon Apo said, “This big lie, the state says is proof of murder–Ladies and gentlemen, why would it be a surprise to anyone that a drug dealer, as the state has evidenced him to be, would be lying to a detective about why he was at a particular location?”

Prosecuting attorney Robert Rivera said that Capobianco was the “only person with a motive, the opportunity and intent,” and said it was “utterly and absolutely ridiculous,” that “he didn’t try to clear his name and continued to lie just to cover up some kind of marijuana deal.”

The defense also argued that marks left on a jawbone recovered from Nuaʻailua were consistent with scoring from a pig or wild boar.  “Dr. Laufer tells you that parallelism of the scratches make it highly unlikely that those were caused by a knife,” Apo said during closing arguments.

That argument was contrary to the testimony presented by several witnesses for the prosecution who said the marks were consistent with a knife.  Dr. Lindsey K Harle a Forensic Pathologist with Clinical Labs of Hawaiʻi testified that incision injuries were likely inflicted by “someone attacking her with a sharp object” or someone using a knife to “essentially de-flesh the bone.”

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 15 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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