Accused killer will stand trial

LIHU’E — A state judge yesterday sent the murder case of Matthew David

Blankswade, 21, of Wainiha to 5th Circuit Court for trial.

Blankswade is

charged with the shotgun death of Jeff Brisebois, 48, at the victim’s home in

Wainiha on June 26.

During Blankswade’s preliminary hearing yesterday,

District Court Judge Clifford Nakea ruled there is sufficient evidence to have

the case tried in the higher court beginning July 25.

Kaua’i County

prosecuting attorney Michael Song and deputy prosecutor Craig De Costa said

police evidence showed Blankswade stole weapons, including a 12-guage shotgun

that was used to kill Brisebois, and moved the victim’s body before police

arrived on the scene.

Blankswade was unable to post $20,00 bail and has

been confined at the Kaua’i Community Correctional Center.

Amber

Brisebois, 18, the daughter of the dead man, was initially arrested in

connection with the murder, but was released Tuesday because authorities said

there was not sufficient evidence to hold her.

But authorities said if new

evidence surfaces to connect her with the crime, Brisebois could be indicted by

a grand jury.

Yesterday, attorney Michael Wichman, representing Mary

Brisebois, the estranged wife of the murder victim, said the outcome of the

preliminary hearing cleared Amber Brisebois of any connection with the death of

her father.

Amber Brisebois didn’t plan the murder, nor did she serve as

Blankswade’s accomplice as he has told police, Wichman said after the

hearing.

Kaua’i police Sgt. Marvin Rivera, a key investigator in the

case, said Blankswade told him July 8 it was Amber Brisebois, not he, who shot

the victim. But during a second interview the same day, Rivera said, Blankswade

admitted to the killing.

The motive for the murder remains unclear. Police

have alleged a possible motive for the murder: That Amber Brisebois hated her

father, wanted his property and conspired with Blankswade to have Jeff

Brisebois removed from the property, or at least moved to another home on the

property.

Yesterday, Wichman said the property, believed to be owned by

Jeff Brisebois, is actually owned by Mary Brisebois, Amber Brisebois and the

girl’s brother.

Because the family owns the property, the theory by police

that Amber Brisebois plotted her father’s death to gain possession of his

property is flawed, Wichman said.

Rivera said he couldn’t verify Wichman’s

assertions.

Wichman said a more likely motive was that Blankswade wanted to

kill Jeff Brisebois because there was deep animosity between the two men. They

had fought, and prior to the murder Blankswade had the impression that he

would be evicted from the property, Wichman said.

The 12-gauge shotgun used

to kill Brisebois and other weapons were stolen by Blankswade from a container

located on a lot in Kilauea, authorities said.

Kaua’i police Sgt. Alejandre

Quibilan said he recovered the stolen weapons with the help of the suspect’s

brother. They included a 20-guage shotgun, a 12-guage shotgun, a 357-Magnum

revolver, a 9 mm-semiautomatic weapon, a 22-caliber revolver, a 22-caliber

lever rifle and a double barrel-shotgun and ammunition. The murder weapon was

found July 8—the day Amber Brisebois and Blankswade were arrested by

police—on a lot next to the Brisebois property. The other weapons were found

before July 8 on an adjacent lot and in a nearby stream. Blankswade was

represented by deputy public defender Ed Acoba at Thursday’s

hearing.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext.

224) or lchang@pulitzer.net

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