The murder trial of Steven Capobianco took a turn Tuesday at the Wailuku courthouse in Maui.
Capobianco is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Carly “Charli” Scott. Scott was 27 years old and five months pregnant when she went missing in February 2014.
Sgt. Wendell Loo, who was the primary investigator assigned to the case, and Carly Scott’s mother, were scheduled to testify Tuesday.
Loo was on the stand for less than 15 minutes when the jury broke for a lunch break and did not come back.
Instead, prosecutor Robert Rivera and defense attorney Jon Apo met with Judge Joseph Cardoza for several minutes before halting the trial for a court-ordered voluntariness hearing that took up the rest of the afternoon.
Without the jury present, Apo questioned how Loo conducted the investigation and obtained evidence, which was still classified as a missing person case at the time.
“You’re the primary investigator of this missing persons case, right?” he said. “So rather than trying to find or doing anything investigative in terms of contacting anyone, known associates, you simply wait for the interview with Steven.”
According to the defense, Loo never read Capobianco his Miranda rights when he was initially interviewed.
Loo: “I needed to talk to him just to find out more background on Carly.”
Apo: “So I guess your point there is that you’re telling him you only wanted him to come talk about Carly, not about asking him whether he killed her or did anything to her right?”
Loo: “Just to find out the background, yes, sir.”
Apo: “So purpose of that investigation was not to ask him anything like did he do anything to Carly or anything, right?”
Loo: “No, sir.”
During that interview, Capobianco submitted to a polygraph test. The results were not revealed in court, and may not be admissible.
At one point in the hearing, Apo accused Loo of fabricating parts of his statements on his investigation.
Prosecutors were openly frustrated and Loo was visibly uncomfortable while Capobianco appeared intrigued at this turn of events.
The jury was able to return briefly at around 4 p.m. before adjourning.
Members of Scott’s family remained in the courtroom until the very end, just like on day one.