KEALAKEKUA — The other of two brothers accused of murder testified Thursday in Kona Circuit Court that his confession of the crime to authorities was a lie to protect his family.
Defense attorney Terri Fujioka-Lilley called her client, Eber Miranda-Garcia, to the stand during trial proceedings. He and his brother, Marlon Miranda-Garcia, are accused of second-degree murder in the death of Dolores “Lolo” Borja-Valle, whose body was found Aug. 9, 2015, in a Captain Cook coffee field off Keopuka Mauka Road.
Earlier in the trial, a video recording of the August 2017 police interview with Eber Miranda-Garcia was presented into evidence. The video shows the 28-year-old admitting to former Hawaii Police Department Detective Walter Ah Mow and Detective David Matsushima to killing Borja-Valle, dumping his body in the coffee field and abandoning his truck in Ocean View.
On Thursday, Eber Miranda-Garcia, with the assistance of a Spanish interpreter, told the jury the confession was untrue.
The night before Borja-Valle died, Eber Miranda-Garcia testified he had dinner at his home in Holualoa then walked to the Kona Imin Center, just up the street. While there, he stated, he recognized a person from a job they worked together and that individual treated him to a beer.
After about one to two hours, Eber Miranda-Garcia stated that he asked the individual if he played billiards and if he knew of the Korner Pocket, which is located in Kealakekua. The 28-year-old explained the establishment was a bar that had billiard tables.
Eber Miranda-Garcia testified that they went to the bar, the person he met at the Imin Center drove. While there, he stated, that he bought two beers with his own money and got quarters to play pool.
Eber Miranda-Garcia told the court he also played pool with other individuals that night. He also had tequila shots. He doesn’t remember where he went after that.
Fujioka-Lilley questioned her client about whether or not he remembered going to Ka‘u that night. He hadn’t.
Counsel also asked if Eber Miranda-Garcia looked at the phone records police collected that indicated he was in Ka‘u. He stated he had no reason to dispute them.
Eber Miranda-Garcia said he remembered talking to his brother, Marlon, that night; however, he couldn’t remember what time. He didn’t remember speaking to his wife or anyone else.
Eber Miranda-Garcia testified that he recalled police coming by the house asking about Borja-Valle in 2015.
“I was answering questions he was asking and pointing out things,” he said about the police. “Went to show him where I had been and where I had been to talk to him.”
Eber Miranda-Garcia testified that the information he provided was honest. The 28-year-old talked to police again days later at the Kealakehe police station.
“I’d answer questions according to what the interpreter asked me,” he stated.
Eber Miranda-Garcia also provided DNA swabs to police at that time.
“They told me it was going to help the investigation and I said ‘yes.’ I wanted to help,” he said.
Eber Miranda-Garcia testified he was arrested two years later when officers came to his work.
While at the Kealakehe police station, Eber Miranda-Garcia testified, he asked if he could get in touch with his family. The request was repeatedly denied.
He eventually was told that both his brothers, Himer and Marlon, were arrested as well as his wife, Jessilyn Miranda-Garcia Hoohuli.
Eber Miranda-Garcia stated that he told police his family had nothing to do with Borja-Valle’s death and neither did he.
Eber Miranda-Garcia said he had a good relationship with Borja-Valle. The 69-year-old was his landlord.
Eber Miranda-Garcia lived in the upstairs portion of Borja-Valle’s house while Borja-Valle lived downstairs, and his brothers, Himer and Marlon, lived in an adjoining room next to Borja-Valle.
“We were friends,” he told the court. “He would give advice; he would help us when we needed something. Every time he went out, he brought fruit back to my daughter.”
Eber Miranda-Garcia added that Borja-Valle also brought a toy back from the mainland to give to his daughter.
Hoohuli also took the stand. Fujioka-Lilley questioned her about her opinion regarding her husband’s peacefulness or nonviolence.
“Nonviolent. He’s a loving person,” she stated.
Hoohuli added that she’s never seen her husband lose it and he’s always been loving with their daughter.
The state will cross-examine Eber Miranda-Garcia today. Closing arguments are expected to follow.
Email Tiffany DeMasters at firstname.lastname@example.org.