Maui News

Capobianco Murder Trial: Defendant Seen In Hāna the Night of Scott’s Disappearance

August 26, 2016, 5:56 AM HST
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Jennifer Taylor, a former co-worker of Steven Capobianco, testified that she saw Capobianco driving a 4Runner in Hāna town the night Charli Scott went missing.

Capobianco is standing trial for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend Carly “Charli” Scott. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Scott was 27-years-old and five months pregnant with a child fathered by Capobianco when she went missing in February of 2014.

Steven Capobianco with his defense team. Photo credit Wendy Osher 7.12.16.

Steven Capobianco with his defense team. Photo credit Wendy Osher 7.12.16.

Taylor worked with Capobianco at Mana Foods. She worked as a cashier and also worked in the vitamin room for four and a half years, leaving in December 2013.

Taylor testified that on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014 she left her home in Haʻikū with her now ex-husband Josh Sommers, for Hāna. She said she attended a funeral at Hāna Bay at around noon that day for her best-friend’s mother who had passed away.

Taylor went on to testify that the memorial lasted until about 1:30 p.m. with about 25-30 people in attendance.

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She said she went to the house of her best-friend’s mother afterwards for a small get-together with about 10 to 15 friends and family members. “We were having snacks, talking story, and bringing up stories about the mother (Jackie) and her life,” Taylor said.

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Taylor testified that her friend’s mother had lived in Hāna for about 20 years and that (Jackie) knew everything happening in Hāna because she lived right off of the road.

She testified that the mother lived on the makai side of Hāna Highway, right near the Hāna Fire Station and about a quarter mile away from Hāna Bay.

Taylor’s husband at the time left around 4:30 p.m. and Taylor ended up staying the night at the Hāna residence.

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When asked by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tracy Jones if she was drinking that night she said that within an eleven-and-a-half hour span she, “had some light beers (about 5 or 6) with lunch and had wine with dinner,” she said. She also mentioned she weighed about 35 pounds more at the time than she does today.

Jones asked if alcohol affected her memory regarding an incident that happened later that evening. “They were memorable,” Taylor said.

Between 9 p.m. and midnight, Taylor said she saw something that caught her attention.

Capobianco Spotted Driving a 4Runner

Taylor said there were four bottle palm trees on the property and that she was standing by one of them closest to the road when she noticed a car driving by. She put the time between 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., noting that ‘it had been dark for quite a while.’

“You can see vehicles driving on the road in both directions. There isn’t traffic at night,” she said. She also added, “you could see the road, but people on the road couldn’t look down and see you.”
Jones asked how many cars she remembered being on the road that night, “a couple, only one that I remember,” she said.

“I remember a 4Runner driving towards Hāna at night and I just had moved toward the road and was standing by the palm tree and I see a car driving,” Taylor said. “I was paying extra attention to the road to see because the majority of the conversations that night was recalling memories of [Jackie] and [Jackie] knew everything happening in town because you can see everyone drive by.”

She said, “I saw Steven drive by and I was shocked because I haven’t been out to Hāna in probably five years and he was the second co-worker I saw that day which makes it extremely memorable.”

According to Capobianco’s account, he asked Scott for help to retrieve his vehicle from an area about 3 miles past Keʻanae on Sunday evening, Feb. 9, 2014. Capobianco told police that he was able to fix his vehicle, and that Scott followed him out of the area towards Haʻikū, but that he lost track of her headlights behind him at around the Twin Falls area.

Taylor saw another former co-worker from Mana Foods earlier in the day at Hāna Bay during the funeral.

Jones asked if she was sure it was Capobianco that drove by and Taylor said she saw him from the front and side, “it was a short distance to see the road, it is very close.” She also said, “I am sure, I’m sure because I’m swearing in a court.”

Jones asked if she put her hand out to shout at Capobianco or if she tried to grab his attention but Taylor said she didn’t.

“I saw the look on his face,” she said. Jones asked to describe what she meant, “he looked different.” She also noted that the defendant never looked back at her when she saw him.

Capobianco Driving a “New Car”

Taylor said she remembered Capobianco driving a ‘newer car’ that night, “I didn’t recognize the truck he was driving, it looked nice, I had never seen it before.” She said she thought he got a new car.

She testified that she was living in Haʻikū in 2013 and that she didn’t know where the defendant lived but saw him driving around a lot, whether it was to Hanzawa’s store, along Hāna Highway, Ho’okipa or in Pā‘ia.

She said that because they worked at the same place they had to park in the same parking lot and was familiar with the different vehicles that he drove. “I remember him having several vehicles,” she said. “One was a Lexus sedan, maybe a Camry, trucks, multiple cars at different time periods.”

“I thought, he got a new car, good for him. What are you doing out here? I thought it was strange he was out there so late because it’s Hāna,” Taylor added.

Jones asked if anybody was seen in the vehicle other than Capobianco or if any animals were inside the car but Taylor said she didn’t see anything else.

Taylor said the 4Runner she saw was silver and it was different than the 4Runner she saw Capobianco drive in the past, “Toyota’s have different edges, some are round, some are square, the one I saw that night was more round,” she said.

In earlier testimony by Kyle Knight on Wednesday, Rivera asked if Knight had seen Scott’s 4Runner in the past, he said he might have seen it once and was asked what the differences between Scott and Capobianco’s 4Runners were.

“(Steven’s) was a 2nd generation, and one was a 3rd generation (Charli’s),” Knight said.

He testified that there is a different body type for both vehicles, and that the defendants 2nd generation would be more squared and the 3rd generation would be more rounded.

Sending an anonymous tip

Jones asked if Taylor followed up and asked the defendant about seeing him that night, “I wanted to and I made an intention to go and talk to him when I got back on Monday but it didn’t happen.” She added, “Friday, I read an article that came out and I decided to never go in (Mana Foods) and ask him.”

She said after she made the connection she went to the Charli Scott Facebook page and that a pop-up appeared that was an anonymous tip line. “It said it would go to the proper authority so I left my information but I didn’t hear from anyone,” she said.

She testified she didn’t want to leave her name because she was frightened, “I wasn’t sure what was going on, I was scared, so I left an anonymous tip.”

After not hearing from authorities Taylor decided to reach out and directly contact the Charli Scott Facebook page which she said was run by Scott’s mother Kimberlyn.

Taylor testified that she was contacted by Detectives within two days.

She added that she did not know Charli or her family and that she doesn’t know them today.

She stated she had seen Charli once and that she met Kimberlyn for the first time last week and spoke with her briefly.

Kyle Knight Cross-Examination

Knight was also on the witness stand on Wednesday.

During cross examination, Knight said that on Feb. 12 he was driving his truck and stopped near the Nua’ailua area due to a strong smelly odor.

Kyle Knight. Photo 8.24.16 by Wendy Osher.

Kyle Knight. Photo 8.24.16 by Wendy Osher.

He testified that another man was with him in the area and he said the man smelled the foul odor and that was the reason he stopped.

After he left the Nua’ailua area he went to the “Jaws” area where Scott’s vehicle was found burned. Knight said the area was filled with police officers and police cars.

When asked by the defense attorney Jon Apo if he reported the smell to police at the “Jaws” area, Knight said that he didn’t. “While searching in the Hāna area, you come across a lot of dead smells,” he said.

Item’s Found Near “Jaws”

On Feb. 13 Knight went out to the “Jaws” area again once the yellow tape put up by police was removed. That is when he noticed a headlight that fit the model of Charli’s 4Runner.

After noticing several other items; including a gas access panel, unburned crossmember and nuts and bolts and a piece of jewelry he left to go search Hāna Highway again.

Apo asked what happened when he left the “Jaws” area en route towards Hāna Highway. Knight said he received a call from his friend regarding a backpack filled with clothes at the “Jaws” area and that he returned to the area.

Apo asked Knight if he informed Scott’s sister Brooke to come to the “Jaws” area. “Apparently, I called her,” he said.

Knight said that it was before sunset on Feb. 13 when Brooke Scott poked at the backpack with a stick and removed some of the clothing. He added that the backpack was found on a bush a couple hundred yards away from where Scott’s vehicle was found burned. He noted that Brooke was crying while looking at the backpack.

“It was dirty, black and brown colored backpack,” Knight said.

Collecting Parts of Scott’s Burned Vehicle

Christopher Fanelli of Wailuku also testified on Wednesday that he collects car parts from abandoned vehicles and sells them. He added that he has been going to the “Jaws” area to collect car parts for 15 years.

He testified that in February 2014 he received a phone call from a friend about a burned 4Runner at Pe’ahi. “It wasn’t 100% burned, someone attempted to burn it but normally people don’t burn them there,” Fanelli added.

Carly "Charli's 4Runner, pictured here, was recovered by Maui police. MPD photo.

Carly “Charli’s 4Runner, pictured here, was recovered by Maui police. MPD photo.

“I went to look at it, and I took the fuel tank off,” he said.

Fanelli said he also took the rims that were melted down and recycled them and took the copper wire from the 4Runner.

He noted that the car was on it’s side when he arrived and that the car was cold and that, “nobody had recently put it out.”

Fanelli also said there were no doors when he arrived at the vehicle.

Detective Barry Aoki took the stand briefly after Fanelli, he has been with MPD since November 1991, and has been a Detective with MPD for almost five years.

He said he was assigned to investigate arson cases and has investigated vehicles that were set on fire in the past.

He said that on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 at 7:20 p.m. he received an assignment from Lt. Dodds, and met Dodds on Holomua Road about a half-mile above Hāna Highway, near Ho’okipa. When he arrived, there were four vehicle doors with burn damages.

When Aoki went under cross examination from Apo he was asked if he knew how the doors got to the area, which Aoki said he did not know.

Capobianco Told a Body Was Found

Apo asked Knight about the phone call he placed to Capobianco on Feb. 13 regarding a body being found somewhere. On Tuesday, Knight testified that Capobianco’s reaction was, “How? and that he was very as a matter of fact.”

Apo asked if he remembered much of that conversation with the defendant and if he remembered Capobianco telling him, “How? Because he (Capobianco) was told only clothes were found and not a body,” Apo said.

“You’re calling Steven because at that point he’s your friend and you’re trying to keep him in the loop,” Apo added.

Knight testified that by Feb. 12, Capobianco wasn’t welcomed at any search parties.

Apo also asked Knight if Brooke was standing next to him when he called the defendant. “Why would you call Steven if a family member was standing right there,” he asked.

“There was a lot of confusion going on, I was wondering why he wasn’t there and he was saying that the family didn’t want him there,” Knight replied.

Defense Asks: Were You Following Capobianco Around?

Apo also asked Knight about running into the defendant at Sack N Save in Wailuku in February, 2014. “You testified yesterday that you are an acquaintance of Kimberlyn Scott,” Apo said.

“Were you following Steven around?” Apo asked. Knight said he wasn’t.

“You testified that the contact with him was random, and started talking about a sound system,” Apo added.

“You work in Lahaina, live in Makawao but happen to run into Steven in Wailuku?” Apo asked.

During redirect, Rivera asked if he had any reason to follow Capobianco around, and Knight said he did not. He said he was in that area near Sack N Save because he had an interlock device in his truck and they do checks nearby at Certified Sounds.

During the re-cross examination Apo mentioned that Knight’s interlock ignition device was ordered back in June 2011 for two years and that by June of 2013 the device would have been removed from his vehicle.

“You would have no longer had that device in your vehicle (in February, 2014), right?” Apo asked. “Okay,” Knight replied.

One of the jurors asked Knight if he was asked by the Scott family to follow Steven. “I don’t believe so. No.”

Friends Don’t Deceive Friends

Several jurors asked Knight if he considered Steven to be his friend as of today. “Not really. No. I don’t know how to answer that.”

Another juror asked if he communicated with Steven and if they were still friends. “No, I don’t communicate with him and I don’t believe we’re friends,” Knight replied.

Knight added that, “Up until the point he got arrested I considered him my friend,” he said. “Just simple things like I gave him a ride to work that morning shows that he’s lying about the situation and friends don’t really deceive friends like that.”

More Juror Questions

Knight was asked about his relationship with Scott and the family. He said he talked to Kimberlyn Scott when he was getting subpoena to be in court and then (the other day) “I gave her a hug in the hallway.”

Knight added that he doesn’t communicate with the Scott family directly and that when he sees them out he says ‘hi.’ He added, “I saw Fiona the other day at Baked on Maui, I grabbed my food and said ‘Hi.’ That’s the extent of it.”

He added that Kimberlyn Scott was not influencing him in any way.

Another juror asked if he was on a mission to convict Steven, Knight said, “No. From day one I wanted just the truth to come out. I stood by him as long as I did, no one else was. (Inaudible) so loyalty.”

The trial is set to resume on Friday morning, Aug. 26 with Taylor to take the stand again.

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