Capobianco Murder Trial Day 10: ‘Ping’ App Points to “Paraquats”
Day 10 of the murder trial for Steven Capobianco included testimony from two of Charli Scott’s younger half-sisters, Fiona and Phaedra Wais.
Capobianco is accused of killing Scott, who was 27-years-old and five months pregnant when she went missing in February of 2014.
When was the last time you saw Charli?
Both Fiona and Phaedra Wais showed emotion as they described the last time they saw their sister Charli Scott, at separate times on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014.
Fiona Wais said the last time she saw Scott was at around noon that day at the Hui Noʻeau Visual Arts Center on Baldwin Avenue where family members had gathered to see the work Scott had put into the exhibit and to also celebrate another sister, Brooke Scott’s birthday.
She described the mood that day as jovial and fun and said Charli Scott was wearing her ‘ice-cream dress.’ “It’s white with different colored ice cream cones. She had a belt on, regular slippers on, and her hair was down and curled.”
“I was saying goodbye, I was just going to walk away and she called me over,” said Fiona Wais. “She was like ‘I love you.’ And I told her I love her too and we gave each other a hug. And that was the last time I saw Charli,” Fiona Wais said as she held back tears during testimony.
Phaedra Wais said she last saw Charli Scott that same night at Brooke Scott’s Haʻikū home where the three and Brooke’s boyfriend watched a movie.
Charli arrived at the home with a long black skirt down to her ankles and a blue tank top with white polka-dots. “It was in fine condition, all clean, no holes, no dirty marks,” said Phaedra Wais who described the article of clothing as one of Charli’s favorites that she wore often. “It looked pretty much like it was brand new, besides it was probably faded from her wearing it,” she replied when asked about her sister’s clothing. The tank top, she said, was brand new.
That night, Phaedra Wais snapped a picture of her older sisters Charli and Brooke and described the mood as happy. “We were joking around, having a fun time,” she said.
When asked about Charli, Phaedra Wais said, “She was definitely happy.” That night, she also testified that she observed Charli’s baby kicking.
“I hugged her goodbye. That’s pretty much all. We talked everyday so it was expected I’d get a text from her the next morning,” said Phaedra Wais who described Charli as her “closest sister, my guardian, my best friend. She was pretty much everything.”
Ping App Points to “Paraquats”
“Did Charli text you the next morning, Monday, Feb. 10?” prosecuting attorney Robert Rivera asked. Phaedra Wais responded, “No she did not.”
Rivera: “What was going through your mind?”
Phaedra Wais: “I thought she was just busy at work.”
Phaedra Wais testified that she, her mother and Charli were part of a ‘family group’ on the Life360 app which allows confirmed members to “see where they are at all times.”
That night, Phaedra Wais said she observed her mother check on the app for Charli Scott. “I saw Charli’s ‘ping’ out in Keʻanae and it said that it had lost connection at around 10:56 p.m. on Feb. 9th,” she said.
Phaedra Wais said she had used the app before, and noted that she was able to locate her lost phone at a field at Giggle Hill in Haʻikū during a past incident. Since there was no address, it just showed the field and an arrow to where the phone was located.
Phaedra Wais testified that on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, she used the app to ‘ping’ Charli’s phone before heading out to Hāna with her mom to search for Charli.
Capobianco Seen Exiting ‘Paraquats’
While heading back to Haʻikū, Phaedra said she saw her sister Brooke Scott’s car pass. Both vehicles stopped and she got out of her mother’s vehicle and into Brooke’s blue Toyota two-door car.
“Our destination was to find out where Charli was last pulled over to help Steven,” said Phaedra Wais, who testified that they reached the destination. “At that point, we were just kind of driving back towards Haʻikū and pulled over wherever we could and we were throwing rocks and calling her (Charli’s) name,” she said.
Phaedra Wais said they saw the defendant while making their way back towards Haʻikū. “Me and Brooke had seen a road that we’d never really seen before so we pulled over. Anything suspicious looking, we usually did pull over. And we saw lights coming up and realized that it was Steven.”
Rivera: “How did you know it was the defendant coming up?”
Phaedra Wais: “He had stopped and talked to us.”
Rivera: “The road that you folks saw the defendant coming up in, it was a paved or dirt road?”
Phaedra Wais: “A dirt road.”
Rivera: “And do you know where that road leads down to?”
Phaedra Wais: “It leads to a little bay.”
Rivera: “What was the name of it?”
Phaedra Wais: “I know it as “Paraquats.”
Rivera: “Did he stop and talk?”
Phaedra Wais: “Yes he did. He said that he had already checked it out down there. He asked if we wanted to go down because he knew that he could get farther than where he had already gotten in his car.”
Rivera: “His car meaning the 4Runner?”
Phaedra Wais: “Yes.”
Rivera: “Looking at the road, do you know if Brooke’s car would have been able to go down there?”
Phaedra Wais: “It definitely would not make it.”
Rivera: “Did you folks go down with the defendant when he offered to take you down there?”
Phaedra Wais: “No we did not.”
Rivera: “Is there a reason why you guys didn’t?”
Phaedra Wais: “it was dark and we just wanted to keep heading back and we would check it out in the morning if anything.”
Return to ‘Paraquats’: “I had been asking to go out there”
The following day, on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, Phaedra joined family in driving out toward Hāna in the hopes of locating Charli Scott’s vehicle.
The next day, on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, Phaedra said she had gone down to the lighthouse in Haʻikū and asked a friend to take her to ‘Paraquats’ to search that area because it was the last spot to register a ‘ping’ from Charli’s phone.
When asked why she waited until Thursday, versus Tuesday or Wednesday to search the area, Phaedra Wais said, “I had been asking if I could go out there, but I was young and didn’t have my own car, so I needed to find somebody to take me out there.” She said her friend was the first one that said he would go with her and the two headed out along with a female who was trained in searches who drove them to the area.
They headed out at around 3 or 4 p.m. and made it about half way down the dirt road. Phaedra Wais testified that they turned around and parked at one of the pullover spots along the road that leads to ‘Paraquats,’ got out and walked down towards the bay.
With the sun starting to set, the three walked back toward the truck. Phaedra Wais said she asked if they could go into the brush area and they walked into “one of the easier areas into the bushes and stuck close together.”
Phaedra Wais testified that the area was very thick with lots of trees and brush. She said the two individuals that she came with walked toward the river in the brush area as she walked next to the dirt road and stayed along the side.
“I didn’t want to move anything that could possibly help,” she said, noting that the group stayed close together as they searched. “We could touch elbows,” she said.
50-50 or 70-30: Phaedra Describes Charli and Steven’s Relationship
Phaedra Wais said she spent half of her time at Charli and Steven’s house in Kula and the other half of the time with her parents. Earlier, sister Fiona Wais testified that they stayed 30 percent of the time at Charli’s and 70 percent of the time with their parents.
Both, however, were in sync when they described Charli Scott as “motherly” toward Steven Capobianco.
“She would cook for him. He would be playing video games most of the time or working on his car,” said Phaedra Wais.
Rivera: “At home, what, if any words of affection did you hear the defendant say or speak of Charli Scott?”
Phaedra Wais: “I don’t recall them saying anything affectionate to each other.”
Rivera: “What if any signs of physical display of affection between Scott and Capobianco in the household?”
Phaedra Wais: “I don’t believe I remember seeing any.”
During cross exam of sister Fiona Wais, defense attorney Jon Apo asked about Fiona Wais’ relationship with Charli, and if their age difference created some problems when she was staying there.
Fiona Wais responded saying, “Slightly. She wanted to take on a motherly role, but I still looked at her like a sister.”
Apo: “She tried to push you out of her life right?”
Fiona Wais: “I wouldn’t say push out. We just were trying to distance ourselves because it was becoming hurtful.”
The Reveal: Charli Tells Her Family She’s Pregnant
Fiona Wais, a half-sister to Charli Scott testified that Scott called a meeting at Wais’ house at Rice Camp in Haʻikū at the end of December 2013, and other family members and friends were in attendance.
Fiona Wais described the occasion as an “early Christmas,” and said during the gathering, Charli shared news that she was pregnant.
“Jaws dropped. Eyes were open. There was silence for a couple of minutes and we all got into asking her questions and being happy for her, “ said Fiona Wais.
“At first all of us were smiling and happy, and then we started to think about it and we were happy for her because she was happy,” said Fiona Wais. “We were just curious and happy for her and surprised,” she said.
Fiona Wais said her mom was “stunned,” but after sitting silent, had hugged Charli. “My mother especially, she was happy for her,” said Fiona Wais.
Sister Describes Capobianco Reaction as “Nervous” and “Panicked”
Fiona Wais testified that she contacted the defendant, Steven Capobianco because she was, “curious as to whether or not he knew that he impregnated Charli.”
Fiona Wais said that at first, “there was a text message and it had said, ‘I thought that she had taken care of it.’ Subsequently I didn’t respond to that text message and later on I got a phone call,” she said.
When prosecuting attorney Robert Rivera asked why she didn’t respond, Fiona Wais said, “because it was obvious that Charli hadn’t taken care of it and that she wanted to keep it, and I had no response to that.”
In the phone call, Fiona Wais testified that the defendant asked how she knew. “I told him that Charli told me directly and then he went on to state that he had thought Charli had agreed to take care of it. And I had gone on to tell him that she had chosen to obviously keep the child and that she wanted to be a mother. From there on it was a one-sided conversation,” said Fiona Wais.
“It sounded like he didn’t believe it and that plans had changed when he originally thought they were going to go through,” said Fiona Wais. Rivera asked her to clarify: “Go through with what?” Fiona Wais responded, “Go through with an abortion.”
She testified that Capobianco was, “having an array of emotional feelings on the phone and described Capobianco as being, ”kind of nervous or panicked sounding.”
When asked to explain, she said Capobianco, “sounded short of breath and rushed as he was speaking and he had said that it consequently would ruin the plans that he had with a current girlfriend, and that it wasn’t what was supposed to be happening, and that he needed to talk to Charli. I don’t believe he was able to get a hold of Charli that night.”
Hitchhiker Theory: “Didn’t make any sense”
On May 14, 2014, Fiona Wais’ birthday, she testified that she called Capobianco. Prosecuting attorney Robert Rivera asked what the purpose of the call was and Fiona Wais said that she had just found out that the case was moving from a missing person to a homicide investigation.
“I just wanted to clarify and ask him a few questions on my own—what his theory was or what could have happened that night from his point of view since he was the last one with her,” said Fiona Wais.
She said, “The defendant’s response was: I’m not sure, but I have a hypothesis that Charli could have picked up a hitchhiker.” She continued saying, “To me that just didn’t make any sense,” she said, “because the story that I heard repeatedly was that he was driving in front of Charli to make sure that his vehicle didn’t break down again.” She said, ”To me it didn’t make sense because if he was driving in front of her and was able to see her headlights,” that would have meant that they were in close proximity. “He would have seen a person and at least be able to give the description of a hitchhiker.”
Rivera: “In his hypothesis did he say he saw a hitchhiker?”
Fiona Wais: “No.”
Defense Seeks Dismissal with Prejudice
Prior to Wednesday’s proceedings, and before the jury was brought into the court, defense attorney Matthew Nardi asked the judge to dismiss the case with prejudice. He said a recording of Brooke Scott that was received on Monday, should have been provided to them prior to the start of trial.
“Given the additional work that we are provided us it denies us substantial due process,” said Nardi.
Nardi said the late discovery, “changes the whole dynamics,” and creates, “a whole different ball game. “Having to re-change strategy in the middle of trial,” he said, puts the defense at an “unfair disadvantage” and creates an “unworkable situation.”
He said that in an alternative, he would request a list of witness orders, noting that the defense believed that the next witness would be Kimberlyn Scott, Charli’s mother, but instead, turned out to be Fiona and Phaedra Wais, Scott’s sisters.
The trial is set to resume on Friday morning, July 15, 2016.