Jan. 25—A trial jury's decision Tuesday clears the way for Stephen Brown, 28, to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the grisly 2017 murder of Telma Boinville, 51, who interrupted a burglary at a North Shore vacation rental.
A trial jury's decision Tuesday clears the way for Stephen Brown, 28, to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the grisly 2017 murder of Telma Boinville, 51, who interrupted a burglary at a North Shore vacation rental.
The eight men and four women, who convicted Brown on Friday for the Dec. 7, 2017, Pupukea murder, kidnappings and burglary, found the state had proved beyond a reasonable doubt on Monday that Brown should be sentenced to an extended term for the protection of the community, based on his conviction for multiple felonies.
He was convicted of second-degree murder, punishable by life with the possibility of parole, but their verdict means they found he poses such a threat to the community that it necessitates imprisonment for a "definite life term."
As the court clerk read the decision, close friends of Boinville's who sat through the long-awaited trial could be heard sighing with relief, while Brown, wearing a tan suit, showed no emotion.
Ultimately, trial Judge Rowena Somerville will decide May 10 on his sentence.
The state plans to seek a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
Boinville encountered the pair inside the 59-533 Ke Iki Road house when she stopped to do some last-minute cleaning before a renter was due to arrive. The renter found her bloodied body downstairs while the pair's footsteps could be heard upstairs. Boinville's daughter, Makana Boinville Emery, was bound to a bedpost upstairs with her mouth taped.
The jury also found the extended term could extend the burglary sentence to 20 years in prison from 10, and the sentence for Boinville's kidnapping to life, up from 20 years, but not for her daughter's kidnapping.
Brown blamed ex-girlfriend Hailey Dandurand, 25, for the slaying but admitted to the kidnappings and burglary. Jurors heard Brown's testimony, but Dandurand did not testify since her lawyer said she would invoke her right to remain silent if called upon. She will be tried separately July 10.
The judge exercised care to not allow the testimony of defense expert Dr. Martin Blinder, both forensic psychiatrist and physician, to implicate Dandurand during the evidence phase of the trial.
She allowed only limited testimony during the extended-sentencing phase as to Brown's dangerousness since it could be considered hearsay, as he had been expected to opine on who was responsible for the murder.
At trial, Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell maintained that 6-foot Brown was the principal in the murder, not the diminutive Dandurand, but the number of implements used indicated two people were involved.
Bell, however, opened the way for Blinder's opinion as to who was responsible by introducing letters he wrote to Brown's lawyer, William Bagasol, who retained him as an expert.
During Bell's cross-examination of Blinder, Bell quoted for jurors only portions of two December letters that made it seem as if Blinder was referring to Brown.
But he was not.
They include the following excerpts :
"A seemingly gratuitously cruel and senseless murder."
"To my mind, the victim was tortured and beaten to death, thus raising the spectre of far greater psychopathology in the perpetrator than I had originally thought at the time, thus causing me to rethink my preliminary conclusions."
"The individual responsible for the decedent's death is more psychiatrically disturbed than I had first appreciated."
The judge discussed the matter outside the jury's presence.
Bagasol argued, "Given Dr. Blinder's opinion as to who is actually responsible for the decedent's death, it is misleading to leave it hanging out there. ... We can't unring a bell. They've already heard it."
The judge said she would instruct the jury that the statement "the individual responsible is more psychiatrically disturbed " be stricken from the record, saying if allowed to stand, it would reopen all the facts of the case.
The judge allowed Baga sol to ask Blinder about the full quote of one line in the Dec. 23 letter, which reads, "Your client has more than his share of psychiatric issues, but the predilection for mutilation and murder is not one of them."
Blinder testified Monday via Zoom, "I've examined a lot of killers. I know how they're put together, and he did not fit that profile very well."
"This was not to say he is an angel, but the degree of sadistic, almost psychotic rage that gave rise to what I read from that autopsy report, it did not fit the profile that I have of this man. It doesn't fit from my clinical perspective."
Blinder said Brown was an "alcoholic, heavy user of marijuana " and "was also dabbling in methamphetamine."
He diagnosed Brown a mix of narcissistic, histrionic and antisocial personality disorders. "Underlying all three is a lack of empathy, " Blinder said.
Bagasol told jurors their decision of whether he should be sentenced to a definite life term means "whether or not he should die in prison."
Blinder also said Brown's conversion to Christianity appears to be genuine and that he was unlikely to re-offend if released when he is older.
He said that people in their 20s, sentenced to life for killing someone, have a very small chance of doing it again by the time they are 40 or 50 years old.
Blinder said that except for serial killers or professional hit men, the more heinous the crime, the less likely they are to re-offend.
Bagasol said such a sentence would mean he would die of old age in prison, unable to be released whether he's 70 or 80 or 90, even if he is frail.
He said Brown's treatment of the 8-year-old, shielding her eyes from seeing her dead mother as he took her upstairs, not threatening or hurting her, shows "something socially redeemable about Mr. Brown."
Bell reminded jurors that 8-year-old Boinville Emery was bound upstairs, her mouth taped, when the Australian visitor arrived.
"Think about what could have happened if that visitor did not arrive."
Bell reminded them to "think of the horrific nature of the crimes, cruel, senseless and unnecessary."
Boinville's friends thanked Bell for his successful prosecution.
Claudia Tzaschel, who used to surf with Boinville, said after the decision, "It's a relief but I wouldn't call it happy."
Lucia Peterson said Boinville's mother in Brazil had been praying nightly. "She's very happy it's coming to an end."
But despite the outcome, "that's not going to bring Telma back."
Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm praised the "extreme courage " of Boinville Emery, who testified, and community efforts that helped locate the defendants "mere hours after the incident."