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Aguiar says he didn’t kill his wife

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.

Aguiar was

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

punished.

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

attorney.

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

said.

“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.

The county

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

review.

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

treatment.

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

million bail.

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 lchang@pulitzer.net

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