It took members of a jury of his peers less than two hours yesterday to return a guilty verdict against Richard Shannon Costa of Kalaheo on the charge of second-degree murder, county prosecutors said.
Costa was charged with stabbing Weslyn Rhonda Jerves to death in the only murder case on the island in 2005.
Her body was found in an unpaved parking lot at Glass Beach, near Port Allen.
“I feel justice was done, and I hope that it can bring closure to the Jerves family,” said county Prosecuting Attorney Craig De Costa.
“I think the Kaua’i Police Department detectives in the case did an outstanding job,” said De Costa.
Warren Perry, Costa’s attorney, said that “the jury looked at the evidence, and they did what they thought was right.”
Sentencing is set for May 25.
Costa, 37, could be sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole if the judge finds that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.
The jury trial started April 17, and lasted five days.
Jerves’ partially-nude body was found by two Las Vegas visitors on Jan. 13, 2005.
An autopsy determined that the 18-year-old Hanama’ulu resident died from multiple stab wounds to the neck, chest, back, abdomen and right arm.
KPD detectives who investigated the case, interviewed Costa and testified in court during the numerous proceedings before Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen N.A. Watanabe, said Costa picked up Jerves in Hanama’ulu, and the pair went cruising, on the evening of the day of the murder.
They ended up at the unpaved parking lot at the beach at about 2 in the morning on the day that Jerves’s body was found, and argued over money Costa said Jerves owed him.
Costa said Jerves pulled a knife on him, and that he took it from her, and stabbed her with it during a struggle after he “lost it a little.”
He said that he put her into a head-lock with his left hand, and held the knife in his right hand to her throat area. He claimed that she moved, and that he “ended up poking her in the throat.”
Costa said he threw the knife away, ran to his car, started it up, and reversed. While backing up, he said, “I felt like I ran over something.”
Forensics experts said in court that “something” was Jerves.
- Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or email@example.com.