KEALAKEKUA — A brother facing a murder charge finished his testimony on the stand Tuesday in 3rd Circuit Court.
Deputy Public Defender Wendy DeWeese rested her case for Marlon Miranda-Garcia Tuesday. Outside of the jury, she moved for acquittal before Judge Robert D.S. Kim, saying a reasonable mind could not conclude that her client is guilty of murder or an accomplice to murder.
Deputy Prosecutor Sheri Lawson told the court there is reasonable inference that Marlon Miranda-Garcia assisted his brother, Eber Miranda-Garcia, in killing their landlord Dolores “Lolo” Borja-Valle in 2015. Despite no DNA evidence collected for Marlon, Lawson added, they are a close-knit family and cellphone records show his device active in the areas where the body was found and where Lolo’s truck was abandoned in Ocean View.
After some further discussion, Kim denied DeWeese’s request.
Marlon Miranda-Garcia and his brother Eber are charged with second-degree murder in the death of Lolo, whose body was found Aug. 9, 2015, in a Captain Cook coffee field off Keopuka Mauka Road.
DeWeese first called Marlon Miranda-Garcia to the stand on Friday. The 25-year-old testified that on Aug. 8, 2015, he was headed to Las Martas in Kona for dancing and music when he picked up a hitchhiker who requested that she be taken to Ocean View.
On Tuesday, Deputy Prosecutor Kauanoe Jackson continued her cross-examination of Marlon Miranda-Garcia asking him about that night he picked up the hitchhiker. He testified, with the assistance of a Spanish interpreter, he couldn’t remember what time he got back into Kona and whether he went to Las Martas.
On Friday, Marlon Miranda-Garcia told the court he was driving Eber’s car that night and it had broken down at Hookena while he was with the hitchhiker.
During Tuesday’s questioning, Jackson questioned the 25-year-old about what he did between Hookena and home.
“I feel nervous. I’m confused,” Marlon Miranda-Garcia stated. “Can you repeat the question?”
Eventually, he answered that he came back to town and drove around.
Jackson began to list off to the defendant different times during the night of Aug. 8, 2015, that his cellphone made contact with his brother, Eber Miranda-Garcia.
“I remember I called my family, I don’t remember what time I made the calls,” Marlon Miranda-Garcia said.
Jackson circled back to the hitchhiker. “You don’t recall her name, correct?”
Marlon Miranda-Garcia testified that the woman tried to explain her name but he didn’t understand.
Marlon Miranda-Garcia had testified that the hitchhiker asked him to drive her to Ocean View during questioning by DeWeese on Friday.
“At the time I wasn’t familiar with the area she wanted to go,” he stated, when asked further about it Tuesday. “She just kept saying: ‘ahead, ahead, ahead.’ All of sudden she said, ‘here.’”
On redirect, DeWeese asked her client why he didn’t tell the police he went out the night of Aug. 8, 2015.
“When I got to the police station, they got me in a little, small room, locked the door,” he told the court. “I was nervous.”
On top of that, Marlon Miranda-Garcia stated, that there were words from the interpreter during the police interview on Aug. 18, 2015, that he didn’t understand.
Marlon Miranda-Garcia went on to explain that, at the time his, sister had arrived in the country two to three months prior.
“The gentleman we were renting from, he was getting us assistance when all of sudden we find him dead,” he stated.
“Is what you told the jury today the truth,” DeWeese asked of her client.
“I swear to say the truth and that is it,” Marlon Miranda-Garcia responded.
Terri Fujioka-Lilley on Tuesday began to present her case for her client, Eber Miranda-Garcia. Nathan H. Ohler was the first witness called to the stand.
Ohler had previously testified in Marlon Miranda-Garcia’s case that he worked with Lolo at Mountain Thunder. On Tuesday, Fujioka-Lilley asked Ohler if he knew the family that lived in Lolo’s house.
Ohler testified that he knew a family lived there and his impression of seeing Lolo around that family was cooperation.
Trent Bateman also took the stand. He was Lolo’s employer at Mountain Thunder. Bateman testified that Lolo took care of his coffee farms and bought cherry in the evening.
“Any reason to believe Eber or his family would harm Lolo?” Fujioka-Lilley asked of Bateman.
He responded with a “no.”
Trial resumes Thursday.