“Charli’s” Mom Testifies: Capobianco’s “Tone was Out of Context”
Kimberlyn Scott, the mother of Carly “Charli” Scott, testified today in the murder trial of Steven Capobianco. The trial is now in it’s 16th day after taking a break on Monday due to illness.
Capobianco is accused of killing Charli Scott, who was 27-years-old and five months pregnant with their child when she went missing in February of 2014. Charli was Capobianco’s ex girlfriend at the time. Capobianco pleaded not guilty to the charges in July of 2014.
Kimberlyn Scott testified that she gave birth to Charli on Nov. 24, 1986 in California. She explained that Charli got her nickname because her older sister Brooke couldn’t pronounce Carly correctly, and the name just “stuck.” Kimberlyn Scott noted that Charli was one of her four biological daughters, but that altogether, she has nine daughters, including her longtime boyfriend’s two daughters and three other hānai children.
During testimony, Kimberlyn Scott described the events leading up to Charli’s disappearance, her daughter’s relationship with the defendant, as well as the tension that loomed as she questioned Capobianco about the last time her daughter was seen alive.
Below is a recap of that conversation.
During earlier testimony, the jury heard audio from an interview of Capobianco in which he told police that on the evening of Feb. 9, 2014, he asked Charli to drive him to a spot 3.2 miles past Keʻanae to retrieve his vehicle, which he said had stalled and died the day before.
Worry Sets In
Charli’s mom testified that she tried to get in contact with her daughter more than 20 times on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, before she called police to file a missing person report.
“I was frightened because it was extremely abnormal for her not to answer. She just always answered,” said Kimberlyn Scott.
“Depending on what time of day she was going to work, she would swing by the house and drop off her laundry,” said Kimberlyn Scott, who noted that Charli did not stop by as expected at around 9 a.m. Kimberlyn had also planned on giving Charli money for maternity underwear at the same time.
That evening after 8 p.m., Kimberlyn Scott tried to contact Charli again while picking up dinner at the Panda Express drive thru. After getting no response all day from Charli, Kimberlyn made a decision to pull over while driving and texted all of her daughters.
At that point she had planned to see if Charli was home. Kimberlyn testified that she picked up her daughter Phaedra Wais in Haʻikū on the way to Charli’s home in Makawao and the two removed the louvers from the front living room window enough for Phaedra to squeeze in and unlock the front door.
Kimberlyn testified that nothing seemed out of place except Charli’s dog Zoey had urinated and defecated within the house. The dog’s water and food dish were also empty. “For her to have messed in the house meant that she had been in the house too long,” said Kimberlyn Scott, who described the dog as, “extremely well trained.”
Police are Notified
Kimberlyn Scott testified that she gave Zoey water, put the louvers back and shut and locked the door to the home. “That’s when I decided we needed to call the police,” she said.
Since the home was one of many residences on the property which shared a common yard, and she was unfamiliar with the exact street address, Kimberlyn Scott said she drove with her daughter Phaedra to the Minit Stop in Makawao where she called police. After waiting for about 45 minutes, she called police again and gave them the address of her Haʻikū home where police arrived at around 10 p.m.
“I was pretty terrified, actually, because the whole time we had been calling and no one had heard from her. I was getting more and more afraid that something had happened,” Kimberlyn Scott testified.
At the time, she used her Life360 phone app to show police Charli’s last ‘ping’ spot. “I could see a bridge. I could see trees. I could see the road,” said Kimberlyn Scott who described the zoomed in view of the location.
She testified that the ‘ping’ was “just off the Hāna Highway,” on the ocean side of the highway at a spot near Honomanū.
While talking with police, Kimberlyn Scott testified that an officer discouraged her from going out to search the ‘ping’ spot. “I agreed with what the officer said, which is that I was just probably overreacting and I shouldn’t put myself and my daughter (Phaedra) at risk in the middle of the night.”
At some point, Kimberlyn said she went back to Charli’s house later that night to bring the dog, Zoey back. When she got back she said, “I tried to sleep.”
Kimberlyn Scott testified that she made breakfast and lunch for her then-boyfriend, Johnny, before sending him on his way to work. “I woke Phaedra and told her we were going to search for Charli.”
The two took a route on the Hāna Highway towards where the ‘ping’ was and stopped 25-30 times along the way between Haʻikū and Hāna, “looking for signs in the shrubbery or any sign that would show a car had gone off the road,” including indents in the guard railing.
They continued on to Hāna to check in and see if police in East Maui had been searching and she was instructed to contact Detective Wendell Loo. After speaking with the detective, Kimberlyn Scott said she turned the car around and began the search backwards, this time headed towards her home in Haʻikū.
On the drive back, she passed her daughter Brooke Scott’s vehicle. “We signaled to each other. Phaedra got out of my car and got into the car with Brooke. I continued home,” Kimberlyn Scott testified.
When her daughter’s Brooke and Phaedra returned home, the defendant, Capobianco, had followed them and arrived at the house as well, according to Kimberlyn Scott’s testimony.
“At that point we had known that he had been with Charli the night before,” said Kimberlyn Scott, who acknowledged that she had requested his presence to ask him about where they had been, what time they returned and if there was a timeline that he could provide.
Defendant’s Tone “Out of Context”
“I pushed a yellow legal pad with a pen toward him and asked him to write down the answers,” said Kimberlyn Scott who characterized her request as, “less of a question and more of a demand.”
It took Capobianco 10 seconds to write down his simplified responses, according to Kimberlyn Scott. “Basically what I took from what he had written was, ” At 8:30 (p.m.) she picked me up; at 9:30 (p.m.) we were at my vehicle; at 10:30 (p.m.) I was home,” Kimberlyn Scott said.
When she asked for more information including if he was in front of her, or if she was in front of him on the return home, Kimberlyn Scott said, “He said she was following. I asked how he knew and he said, ‘Because you’re the one that gave the skull headlamp to her. No one else has one.’”
Kimberlyn Scott characterized Capobianco’s tone as being “out of context for being in a room full of people that were afraid for someone.” She said, “He was being a smart ass.”
When she pushed the legal pad toward him again and asked him to write down the specific name of the street where Capobianco last saw Charli’s headlights Kimberlyn Scott said, “He didn’t verbally refuse; he just didn’t pick it (the pen) up. He did not write that down. He then told Brooke (Charli’s older sister) that it was closer to Twin Falls that he last saw her (Charli’s) headlights.”
According to Kimberlyn Scott, Capobianco also told her to check out Mile Marker 7.5.
On the top and bottom of the timeline, there was notes written by one or more family member including a reference to an individual who had a sex assault charge at some point as indicated on the Life360 App. According to Kimberlyn Scott, the family was making note of individuals who had police records “to see what kind of people were along the route” on the way to Hāna.
Kimberlyn Scott said she packaged the timeline in a plastic sleeve to protect it and eventually turned it over to police, who placed it in an additional protective sleeve.
Charli’s Mom to Capobianco: “I don’t want to see you”
During cross exam of the witness, defense attorney Jon Apo questioned Kimberlyn Scott about a meeting and conversation she had with Capobianco on Feb. 12, 2014.
She testified that the two had arranged to meet at Hanzawa’s sometime after 8 p.m. that day so she could get Zoey back after the dog had gone with Capobianco the day before.
Apo read from a Feb. 22, 2014 transcript of Kimberlyn Scott’s interview with police in which she recounted to police what had transpired.
At one point Capobianco was quoted as saying, “Yeah, I’m going. This is getting pinned on me.” Kimberlyn Scott was also quoted as telling Capobianco, “I just looked at him and said: Do not show up at any searches. I don’t want to see you.”
Apo asked Kimberlyn Scott if she had at that point “pinned him for it,” but the questioning was stopped after objections based on characterization and commentary.
He also questioned the witness about the exact timing of when she learned of Charli Scott’s pregnancy. When asked why she told police that it was at Thanksgiving, she said, “That was a misstatement by me,” noting that it was at Christmas time. “I was exhausted. I was looking for my missing child,” she said.
Charli Scott and Steven Capobianco: Relationship
Kimberlyn Scott testified that over the four year period that Steven Capobianco and Charli Scott were together, in the context of their relationship, she never saw Charli “super happy,” but did see her “super sad.”
“I would not label it as a functioning relationship. It wasn’t affectionate. As a mother, it didn’t make me happy,” she said.
When asked if the defendant was caring towards her daughter, Kimberlyn Scott said, “No.” and explained, “He did things like let her carry the laundry up by herself. She would clean up after him, fix him his favorite meals, make sure that he had happy birthdays, and then clean everything up while he sat and played videogames.” She continued saying, “ She not only did his laundry but folded it. She kept the house clean, paid all the bills, and if he had an overdue bill, she took care of it,” said Kimberlyn Scott.
During one occasion the family had gone out to a lūʻau, and each of the sisters present had brought a boyfriend along. Kimberlyn Scott asked each of the couples to put their heads together for a photo, but “Charli had her arms crossed and said no.” On the third request, Kimberlyn Scott said, “I got louder about it… He did not acknowledge, but just sat there. I was refused,” she said, testifying that she never observed the defendant hug or kiss her daughter.
The Announcement: “I was going to be a grandmother.”
When Kimberlyn Scott learned the news that her daughter Charli Scott was pregnant, she described her surprise as a “15” on the scale of 1 to 10.
“I started crying. I just got told I was going to be a grandmother,” said Kimberlyn Scott. “I was glad for her. Glad to know that things were shifting appropriately,” said Kimberlyn Scott.
When she shared her feelings with her daughter following in the announcement, Kimberlyn Scott said, “she was laughing at me,” and said Charli was acting, “like any expectant mother that’s the center of attention. She was the apple of everyone’s eye. She knew it.”
The trial resumes on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m.