Honolulu — — A judge on Tuesday ordered the release of a man from prison just after his lawyers presented new evidence for the 1991 murder, kidnapping and sex crimes he was convicted of and held for more than 20 years. Assault on a woman who visited Hawaii.
Albert “Ian” Schweitzer, who was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to 130 years in prison, “should be released from his bondage immediately,” Judge Peter Kubota ruled.
The Hilo courtroom erupted in tears, applause and hugs as Schweitzer was flown from an Arizona prison to the Big Island for his trial.
Reported by CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB-TV At the press conference, standing beside his mother and other family members, a visibly moved Schweitzer thanked the lawyer and the judge.
In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, Schweitzer recalled the moment of his release, saying, “Emotions were all over the place… nervous, anxious, scared.”
The justice system is “flawed,” he said, and is one of many people incarcerated for crimes they didn’t commit.
AhOne of Hawaii’s biggest murders on Christmas Eve 1991 on the Big Island of Hawaii.
23-year-old Dana Ireland was found barely alive in the bush along a fishing trail in Puna, a remote part of the island. She was sexually assaulted and beaten, and later died at Hilo Medical Center.
The murder of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed visitor from Virginia received national attention and went unsolved for years, putting intense pressure on police to find the killer.
“White female victims get more attention than people of color or Native Hawaiians,” said Kenneth Lawson, co-director of the Hawaii Innocence Project. “…there was an insurmountable pressure to solve this case. And when it happened, mistakes were made. Some were intentional, some were unintentional.”
Relatives in Ireland could not be immediately reached for comment on the petition and Schweitzer’s release. Prosecutors did not immediately comment on Schweitzer’s release.
With the help of New York’s Innocence Project, a co-lawyer on the case, Lawson’s group found Schweitzer, the last man of three Native Hawaiians who were convicted of Irish death and remained imprisoned. acted as an agent for
Previously filed DNA evidence in this case was of an unknown man, and all three convicted men were excluded as sources.
According to the petition, new DNA evidence found near Ireland indicates that her blood-soaked “Jimmy Z” branded t-shirt was not one of the three men prosecutors claimed was the same. It indicates that it belongs to an unknown male.
Additionally, a new tire tread analysis concluded that Schweitzer’s Volkswagen Beetle car left no tire marks in either Ireland or where her bike was found. Forensic dentists also concluded that her left breast injury was not a bite, as previously believed.
“In today’s new trial, the jury will not convict Mr. Schweitzer of the sexual assault and murder of Ms. Ireland,” the petition said. “In fact, prosecutors wouldn’t even arrest Mr. Schweitzer for this crime.”
It is “highly unlikely” that all three men were involved in sexual assault and left no trace of biological evidence, including the lack of evidence found on advanced forensic examination.
In 2019, Schweitzer’s attorney and Hawaii County prosecutors signed a “conviction integrity agreement” to review the case. It is the first of its kind and is increasingly being used to revisit questionable beliefs and prevent future errors.
“Over the past three years, we’ve shared information and reviewed forensic evidence. Whatever the outcome of these post-conviction proceedings, we’ll be able to identify Unknown Male #1 and help Dana.・We remain committed to seeking justice for Ireland and her “ohana.” Hawaii County Prosecutor Kelden Wolgen, using the Hawaiian word for “family,” said he was “a family member” before sentencing. said in a statement.
However, deputy prosecutor Shannon Kagawa asked the judge to dismiss the petition, saying the new evidence would not change the outcome of the new trial.
Kubota objected to this, stating that the jury would acquit Schweitzer based on new evidence.
Much of the background to the Irish case is detailed in the documents filed in the petition stating the facts laid down by the defense and prosecutor.
In 1994, police made what appeared to be a major breakthrough. A man charged with his role in a cocaine conspiracy contacted police and claimed that his half-brother, Frank Paulin Jr., witnessed the Irish attack, according to stipulated fact documents. .
Police interviewed Pauline, who is in the third month of a 10-year sentence for unrelated sexual assault and theft. He claimed that his brothers Ian and Sean Schweitzer attacked and killed Ireland. However, he was interviewed at least seven times, giving inconsistent explanations each time, and eventually found himself guilty.
The two Schweitzers and Pauline were indicted in 1997, despite the lack of evidence linking them to the murders.
At one point, all three men were ruled out as sources of semen found in Ireland and hospital gurney sheets, so the charges were dismissed. They were again indicted after they claimed to have confessed to raping and murdering Ireland.
Pauline later said she provided police with details about the Irish murders in order to drop drug charges against her half-brother.
In a prison interview for the A&E show “American Justice”, Pauline compared her story to that of a wolf boy. “It wasn’t me,” he said in a strong Hawaiian pidgin accent. But when he started speaking the truth, he said no one believed him.
After seeing a jury convict Pauline and his brother in 2000, Sean Schweitzer signed a contract pleading guilty to manslaughter and kidnapping, serving about a year in prison and five years. I received probation from
In October, Shawn Schweitzer met with prosecutors and retracted the allegation. According to the statutory document, he “didn’t want to risk losing another son, so he told Sean Schweitzer to do what it took to get home and suffer the same fate as his older brother.” He pleaded guilty because he advised him not to do so.
Sean Schweitzer “continues to feel great guilt for agreeing to a confession, filing a guilty plea for a crime he didn’t commit, and accidentally implicating his brother,” the document said.
A polygraph test in November showed he was telling the truth when he denied involvement in the murder, documents say.
Pauline was murdered by a fellow inmate in a New Mexico prison in 2015.
Being back in Hawaii is “so delicious,” Schweitzer told the Associated Press.
“The air is fine,” he said. “I like water.”