Monday, May 29, 2023|
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JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald Albert "Ian" Schweitzer talks to the press outside the Hilo courthouse minutes after his conviction for the 1991 murder, rape and kidnapping of Dana Ireland was overturned.
It’s the first night of freedom for a Puna man who spent 26 years behind bars for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Dana Ireland on Christmas Eve 1991.
Albert “Ian” Schweitzer, now 51, said after his 2000 conviction was overturned today by Hilo Circuit Judge Peter Kubota that he’s “just grateful, very thankful.”
“Give glory to God, the Almighty, my lord and savior.” Schweitzer continued. “Thank you for blessing me with my team and family, and thank you to the judge for being an honorable judge and the prosecutor for doing the honorable things and restoring honor in the court system of Hilo.”
The team Schweitzer referred to is the Hawaii Innocence Project and the New York Innocence Project.
In a daylong hearing before Kubota, the Innocence Project’s lawyers presented three main arguments for Schweitzer’s release: updated DNA testing, the discrediting of bite mark evidence, and expert testimony that Schweitzer’s 1953 Volkswagen Beetle couldn’t have made the tire tracks left at the Kapoho site where Ireland’s bicycle was run over, or the tracks found on the remote Waa Waa fishing trail where she was discovered beaten, raped and dying.
The DNA found on several key pieces of evidence in the case belongs to an individual referred to in court today as “Unknown Male No. 1.”
Also exonerated were two co-defendants also convicted of the brutal rape and murder — Frank Pauline Jr., who was sentenced to life but was murdered in a New Mexico prison, and Schweitzer’s younger brother, Shawn Schweitzer, who was 16 when the crime occurred and pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a deal with prosecutors.
Jerry and Linda Schweitzer, parents of Shawn and Ian Schweitzer, were in the courtroom when Kubota overturned Ian Schweitzer’s conviction. The younger Schweitzer’s conviction is still on the record.
The case hinged on a recanted confession by Pauline and testimony from a jailhouse informant who told a jury Ian Schweitzer told him he was there when Pauline allegedly raped and beat Ireland.
The Ireland murder is perhaps the most notorious murder in Hawaii’s history.
See Wednesday’s Tribune-Herald for a full story.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.
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