KEALAKEKUA — A second brother accused of murder testified 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 in his defense in 3rd Circuit Court Thursday. 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 in a Captain Cook coffee field off Keopuka Mauka Road on Aug. 9, 2015.
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 Detective Walter Ah Mow and Detective David Matsushima to killing Lolo, dumping his body in the coffee field and abandoning the decedent’s truck in Ocean View.
On Thursday, Eber Miranda-Garcia with the assistance of a Spanish interpreter told the jury the confession was untrue.
Last week, Marlon Miranda-Garcia also told the court a different alibi than what he told officers during the investigation. Instead of being at home sleeping, which he originally said, he was on his way to Las Martas when he stopped and picked up a hitchhiker when the car broke down.
The night before Lolo died, Eber Miranda-Garcia said Thursday, he had dinner at his home in Holualoa then walked to the Kona Imin Center, which was just up the street from them. 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, 28, stated that he asked the individual if he played billiards and if he knew of the Korner Pocket, a bar with pool tables in Kealakekua.
Eber Miranda-Garcia testified that they went to the bar, and 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 billiards.
He told the court he also played pool with other individuals that night and had tequila shots, but didn’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 said he hadn’t.
Counsel also asked if Eber Miranda-Garcia had looked at the phone records police collected that indicated he was in Ka‘u. He stated he had no reason to dispute them.
He did remember talking to his brother Marlon that night, he said, however, he couldn’t remember what time. He didn’t remember speaking to his wife or anyone else.
Eber Miranda-Garcia testified he recalled police coming by the house asking about Lolo in 2015.
“I was answering questions he was asking and pointing out things,” he said of 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. He 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 was arrested two years later when officers came to his work.
“I saw the officers – went to tell them good afternoon,” he told the court. “They told me I was going to get arrested. I said, ‘OK.’”
While at the Kealakehe Police Station, Eber Miranda-Garcia, testified that he asked if he could get in touch with his family — a request that was repeatedly denied.
He eventually was told that both his brothers; Himer and Marlon had been 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 Lolo’s death, neither did he.
“The detective was very smart to tell me my family was there,” Eber Miranda-Garcia told the court. “I started to think about my child, my brothers. That’s when I decided I’d done everything so my daughter could grow up with her mother, grow up with her uncles.”
Eber Miranda-Garcia explained he had never been apart from his daughter.
“I’ve always been a good father to her and a good husband and that’s the reason,” he stated.
Eber Miranda-Garcia said he had a good relationship with Lolo. The 69-year-old was his landlord.
Eber Miranda-Garcia lived in the upstairs portion of Lolo’s house while Lolo lived downstairs and his brothers, Himer and Marlon lived in an adjoining room next to Lolo.
“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 Lolo had 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.