LIHU’E – ‘Ele’ele resident Gregory Aguiar pleaded not guilty yesterday to
murder and reckless endangering charges in connection with the death of his
wife in March.
At Aguiar’s arraignment at the Lihu’e Courthouse, Circuit
Judge George scheduled an Oct. 2 trial date for Aguiar, 49.
initially charged with attempted murder for allegedly pouring lighter fluid on
Miu Lan Esposo-Aguiar, 39, at their home in ‘Ele’ele on March 12 and setting
her on fire in the presence of their 3-year-old granddaughter.
Esposo-Aguiar suffered severe wounds and was treated at Straub Clinic and
Hospital on O’ahu, but she died March 31, prompting the charge of attempted
murder to be upgraded to murder.
The family of the victim say the
circumstances of the crime point to Aguiar as the culprit and that he should be
Holding a trial for Aguiar is pointless because he has been found
mentally fit by three psychiatrists to stand trial for the crime, said family
members outside the Lihu’e Courthouse after Aguiar’s hearing yesterday.
“He should be in prison (serving a jail sentence), and there shouldn’t be a
doubt that it happened now, instead of waiting until October, ” said Lillian
Cabral, Esposo-Aguiar’s sister.
If Aguiar is convicted, he would face a
life sentence without possibility of parole and an additional five years for
the reckless endangering charge, said Derrick Chan, first deputy prosecuting
The court can decide whether the sentences run concurrently or
consecutively, Chan said.
Regardless of the outcome of the trial, family
members of the victim will never forget what Aguiar allegedly did, Cabral
“We hate him,” Cabral said. “There is nothing that is going to
change that. Nothing is going to bring back my sister.”
Along with Cabral,
three other sisters, a brother, the victim’s two sons and other family members
attended the hearing.
The family said they want copies of reports done by
three psychiatrists who were ordered by a state judge to conduct mental fitness
tests of Aguiar.
The psychiatrists apparently found Aguiar competent to
stand trial, since the arraignment was held as a prelude to a trial. However,
the reports were being withheld by the court system.
prosecutor’s office and Aguiar’s attorney, Peter Kea, are ready to file a court
motion asking that the reports be sealed and not be available to the public for
According to police, on March 12 neighbors heard Esposo-Aguiar
scream at about 11 a.m. and saw her run out of her home on 4554 Pualei St. in
‘Ele’ele in a ball of fire and run across the street to another home, where she
hosed herself off with water.
Aguiar surrendered to police about two
miles from his home at the Kaua’i Coffee Co. office in Numila, where he is an
employee. A co-worker convinced Aguiar to surrender.
No clear motivation
for the crime has been established.
But Kaua’i police investigators said
there was discord in the Aguiar household. The suspect, they said, was upset
that his wife spent too much time at her job at Home Infusion in Lihu’e. The
business provides care for individuals who are homebound and require medical
At yesterday’s hearing, Kea entered the not guilty plea on
behalf of his client.
Since his arrest, Aguiar has been held in lieu of $1
Since the crime, rallies have been held to remember the
victim and to call a halt to violence against women.
Staff writer Lester
Chang can be reached at 245-3681 or email@example.com