A convict in one of Hawaii’s most notorious murders is proclaiming his innocence in a new court filing.
The Hawaii Innocence Project filed a motion this week to take another look at the Dana Ireland murder case.
It was a crime that sent shockwaves through the state.
On Christmas Eve 1991, the 23-year-old was riding her bicycle to her sister’s house along a secluded road in Puna. That night, she was found hit by a vehicle, brutally raped, and left to die on the side of the road.
Now, more than 25 years later, a man convicted of her murder wants to be released, and has a team of some of Hawaii’s most prominent defense attorneys supporting him.
Albert Ian Schweitzer was found guilty of murder, rape, and kidnapping, and sentenced to life in prison. Even though his sentence came with the possibility of parole, his minimum sentence was set at 130 years, essentially guaranteeing he’d never be free again.
But he could be, if lawyers with the Hawaii Innocence Project get their way.
Three years after Ireland’s death, Frank Pauline Jr. confessed to the killing, and also pointed a finger at the Schweitzer brothers, Albert Ian and Shawn.
Pauline was eventually sentenced to life in prison. He died in 2015, killed in a New Mexico prison.
Shawn Schweitzer was only 16 when Ireland was murdered. He was sentenced to five years probation and a year in jail for manslaughter.
In January 1999, he insisted his innocence: “It’s a very tragic thing that happened to her daughter, but me and my brother are innocent.”
His brother, Albert Ian Schweitzer, remains locked up in an Arizona prison.
Now, attorneys Brook Hart and Bill Harrison are requesting Schweitzer’s sentence be overturned on the grounds of innocence, ineffective assistance of counsel, new DNA evidence, and other new evidence.
Court documents say Schweitzer’s trial attorney “failed to call the key alibi witness to the stand,” namely their uncle, and that he “failed to properly investigate the case.”
The documents go on to say Schweitzer’s other attorney, who represented him in his appeal, also provided “ineffective counsel.”
The documents say DNA evidence does not match Schweitzer, and that because of scientific advancements, the evidence should be retested.
In 2015, the Hawaii Innocence Project hired an independent collision reconstruction expert, who said that the expert who testified for the State back in 2000 made his theory “based on false scientific calculations.”
The expert back then said a Volkswagen Bug had hit Ireland, but the new expert says, based on his calculations, it could not have been possible if the vehicle was carrying three large passengers.
Court documents also say “a confidential informant has recently come forward with important information relating to this case.”
We reached out to the Hawaii Innocence Project and Schweitzer’s attorneys and are waiting to hear back.