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Judge: Peter Kubota
Court: Circuit Court, Hawai'i County, Hawaii
Plaintiff's Attorney: Hawaii County Hawaii District Attorney's Office
Defendant's Attorney: Kenneth Lawson
Description: Hilo, Hawaii criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with murder, kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman in 1991.
Albert "Ian" Schweitzer and three other men were convicted of kidnapping, sexually assault and murdering Dana Ireland, age 23, who was found barely alive near a fishing trail in Puna, a remote section of the Big Island on Christmas Eve in 1991.
The victim was a tourist who was visiting Hawaii from her home in Virginia.
Albert was not guilty of the crime, but he was convicted in 2000 and was sentenced to 130 years in prison.
DNA evidence previously submitted in the case belonged to an unknown man and all three of the convicted men were excluded as sources.
Defendant also produced evidence that Defendant's VW did not leave tire marks near the crime scene and an injury to the victim's breast was not a bite mark.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Shannon Kagawa asked the judge to deny the petition, saying the new evidence wouldn’t change the outcome of a new trial.
Defendant filed a Petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus in 2005, which was dismissed in 2016. See: 05-cv-00065
"On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, 1991, a young woman named Dana Ireland was struck by a vehicle while she was riding a bicycle down a red cinder road on the island of Hawai'i.
Dana was visiting the Big Island from her home state of Virginia, had cycled eight or so miles from her parents’ rental home in Kapoho Vacationland to a friend’s house to invite him over for Christmas Eve dinner. He was the last person likely to see Dana alive.
At approximately 5:00 p.m., witnesses passing through Kapoho Kai Drive at the entrance to Kapoho Vacationland came upon the scene of an abandoned collision, finding tire tracks in the dirt, a white tennis shoe, a mangled black bike, and clumps of blonde hair. They searched the area for the bicycle’s rider, assuming someone had been severely injured. No one was found.
Around the time the police were called to the scene of the mysterious bicycle accident, at 5:30 p.m., a woman found Dana Ireland laying miles away in the bushes of a fishing trail in Wa'a Wa'a, battered and clinging to life. Dana was incoherent, partially clothed, and believed she was the apparent victim of a sexual assault. They waited for an hour and a half before emergency services arrived when Dana was taken to Hilo Hospital. She tragically died at 12:07 a.m. on December 25th, 1991, from massive blood loss.
In the days following Dana’s death, the police exclusively searched for two types of vehicle which were suspected to be involved in the incident; a dark-colored 1970’s model pickup truck and a light-colored van.
In the years following the murder, the Ireland family was active publicly and politically to put pressure on authorities to get the case solved. In the spring of 1994, Frank Pauline and his half-brother John Gonsalves, began to opportunistically barter falsified testimonies in exchange for personal benefits in ongoing, unrelated criminal charges they were facing. In the spring of 1994, Frank Pauline was in prison for rape and John Gonsalves and other members of the family were facing serious drug charges. Frank Pauline began by implicating himself and two brothers named Ian and Shawn Schweitzer. Ian was twenty years old at the time of the murder, and his younger brother Shawn was sixteen. The Pauline family lived across the street from the Schweitzer family and their families had a long-standing animosity towards each other. Pauline initially acknowledged that he was not a close friend of the Schweitzers, but claimed that the brothers had picked him up in their Volkswagen Bug on Christmas Eve, 1991, so they could go and do drugs. Pauline’s story was not initially believed by the lead Detective because his story was so inconsistent with the facts. Gonsalves also told police that Frank Pauline had confessed to him that he and the Schweitzer brothers were responsible for the murder, sexual assault, and kidnapping of Dana Ireland.
In exchange for telling the police the identities of the alleged perpetrators of the Ireland murder, Frank Pauline immediately began to receive all manner of benefits, from additional phone calls to his girlfriend, to promises of special visitations, to preferred housing in the prison. John Gonsalves and other family members received highly favorable deals in their pending narcotics case in exchange for their cooperation in the Ireland investigation.
The Schweitzer brothers were indicted on October 10th, 1997, but the charges were dismissed without prejudice on October 20th, 1998. The charges were dismissed when an FBI report dated December 22, 1998 definitively excluded Ian Schweitzer, Shawn Schweitzer, and Frank Pauline as the contributors of the semen of an unknown male left on Dana’s body. Despite the lack of DNA evidence, the Schweitzer brothers were re-indicted on May 20th, 1999.
The only DNA that has been identified at either the crash scene or the fishing trail is that of Dana Ireland, and that of an unknown male. This DNA profile has been unsuccessfully run through the CODIS database, and as of today this DNA still has not been matched. A bloody t-shirt was also found at the Wa'a Wa'a scene, which was alleged to have belonged to Frank Pauline. Previous DNA testing methods done during trial and shorlty after were unable to yield a DNA profile of the shirt’s owner because the shirt was so heavily saturated in Dana’s blood. New DNA testing recently conducted by HIP, has now conclusively shown that the DNA on the shirt is the same unknown male profile as the semen found on Dana.
No DNA found has ever matched any of the Defendants to this heinous crime. Additionally, both Schweitzer brothers had alibis at the time of the crime, neither of which was used at trial. The vehicle Pauline stated was used during the crime, Ian’s purple VW bug, was not even owned by Ian at the time of the crime but was purchased two months after the crime occurred. Despite the lack of physical evidence, Pauline and Ian Schweitzer were convicted of Dana’s murder, kidnapping and rape. Shawn Schweitzer following the guilty verdicts in the two preceding trials, plead guilty and received credit for time served.
With the hopes of freeing Ian, HIP has filed a motion for a new trial in this case which is currently pending. HIP continues to investigate and conduct DNA testing in this case, with the hopes of finding additional evidence of our client’s innocence. "
Outcome: Defendant's lawyers presented DNA evidence that proved that Defendant did not commit the crime. He spent 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.