Costa gets life, chance of parole

A Circuit Court judge sentenced Richard Shannon Costa, 37, to life in prison Thursday with the possibility of parole for killing Weslyn Jerves, 18, at Glass Beach last year.

“I wish Weslyn was here today,” Costa said to Judge Kathleen N.A. Watanabe on Thursday. “I apologize for the pain I caused my family and Weslyn’s family.”

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn said Jerves’s family is still unable to speak about the crime.

“This was a vicious crime that caused an immeasurable amount of pain for the victim’s family,” she said.

“(I) cannot even begin to imagine the suffering Jerves’ family went through,” Watanabe said. “I hope this brings peace for the family.”

Costa, 37, of Kalaheo, was found guilty on April 24, after four days of testimony and fewer than two hours of jury deliberations.

Costa faced one count of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of Jerves on Jan. 13, 2005. Her partially nude body was found in an unpaved parking lot by two tourists from Las Vegas.

At the trial, prosecutors played Costa’s tape-recorded statements made to police where he said there was a struggle, and he put Jerves into a headlock and “ended up poking her in the throat.”

Additionally, Costa said he ran over something when he left the parking lot.

According to a press release from the county prosecutor’s office, Costa initially denied taking Jerves to Glass Beach. When questioned again, Costa admitted taking her to the beach but said he beat her and left her there but did not kill her.

Costa eventually admitted to stabbing Jerves but claimed he acted in self-defense and some of the wounds may have been accidental, the press release states.

Winn and Prosecuting Attorney Craig De Costa presented evidence to the jury that Costa was the last person to see Jerves alive, and her DNA was found in the car Costa was driving. Furthermore, markings on Jerves’ body matched the tire pattern from Costa’s car, the release states.

Costa’s attorney, Warren Perry, argued that his client should be found not guilty by reason of physical or mental disease, defect or disorder, the release states. Perry said his client was suffering from extreme mental or emotional disturbance at the time of the crime.

Costa took the stand at the trial, as did a psychologist who testified that Costa suffered from major depression and acute distress, impairing his ability to conform his conduct to the law, the release states.

• Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or ckaneshiro@kauaipubco.com.

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