Capobianco Murder Trial Day 11: Numerous Items Found at Crime Scene
Friday marked the 11th Day of the Steven Capobianco murder trial with Charli Scott’s youngest sister, Phaedra Wais returning for a full day of testimony.
Capobianco is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Scott, who was 27-years-old and five months pregnant when she went missing in February of 2014.
Wais described how she first came upon a DVD that she recognized as belonging to her sister, Charli, during a search of Nuaʻailua Bay or ‘Paraquats’ on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. As the search continued, she said, she cried as more and more personal items were found including a blanket that was “covered in maggots.”
The search of the area that day was initiated by Wais who said she had seen the defendant exiting the dirt road leading down to the bay during a search two days earlier, and it was also the last spot to register a ‘ping’ from Charli’s phone.
Phaedra Wais testified that two days prior, on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, she used the Life360 app to ‘ping’ Charli’s phone before heading out that day to search for Charli. The ‘ping’ showed a bend in the road that she recognized as being just past Honomanū.
During prior testimony she had stated, “I had been asking if I could go out there (to Nuaʻailua or ‘Paraquats’), 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. The female drove them to the area in a red pickup truck.
DVD and Clothing Identified as Charli’s Found
Wais said that the three stayed close and were careful not to move anything, but at one point she became separated from the others. It was during that time that she came upon a DVD off of a dirt road that extends from the Hāna Highway to Nuaʻailua Bay.
She said she recognized the DVD because it had the word ‘Twilight’ written on top and had seen it in Charli’s car. She said friends from work gave it to Charli and her sister tried to give it to her at one point.
“I had taken a picture and then I actually did grab it,” she said. She proceeded to run over to the two others because she heard them calling her name. “It was very loud. I didn’t expect to hear them that loud. It sounded kind of frantic,” said Wais.
“I just kept walking until their voices got closer. It was kind of hard so… ducking under anything I could. Just getting to them as fast as I could,” she said. “Right when they came into view,” said Wais, the female searcher who had driven them to the site was holding up a piece of clothing with a stick and asked her if Wais recognized it.
“It was her (Charli’s) blue tank top with white polka dots,” said Wais, who explained that it was the same piece of clothing that she saw Charli wearing the last time she saw her sister, on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014. She also noticed that it had a few holes in it.
“There was also a black skirt on the ground,” said Wais who identified the skirt as her sister’s saying she had seen Charli wearing it often. “It was next to a tree just piled onto the ground,” she said.
She said the female searcher took photos of the clothing before the three continued to search by going further toward the river.
Blanket “Covered in Maggots”
“We saw Charli’s blanket across the river caught on a tree, but still in the water,” said Wais. “I had seen that blanket quite often. It was in her car a lot. She used it for camping or (for) her dogs.”
Wais said she tried to grab the green blanket, but backed up when she saw that it was “covered in maggots.”
“I had fallen in the river and I was too scared to touch it,” Wais said, explaining that she lost her balance and got her legs wet in the process. She also described a “very strong,” “rotten smelling,” odor that came from the blanket.
Wais said the female who had driven them to the area instructed her to stop because she was crying. “I thought the most helpful thing to do was to ‘ping’ myself.” When the image showed up, she explained, “I saw the same bend that I saw when I was looking at Charli’s ‘ping,'”
“I saved the screen shot,” she said noting that “everything was pretty much the same” as Charli’s ‘ping’ — “the bend, same green areas, the same location,” she said.
Wais testified that her male friend retrieved the blanket by grabbing it and putting on the nearest rock.
Jacket, Pants and Empty Rolls of Tape Recovered
While at the river, more items were recovered. “There was a gray jacket, black pants, (and) two empty rolls of tape that we had found,” said Wais, who described the jacket as a hooded sweatshirt with a zipper.
She said the jacket was across the river, about six feet downstream from the blanket. The pants were also downstream on the opposite bank as the jacket.
The empty rolls of tape were found stuck on the side of the river that is closest to the dirt road, floating or resting in a shallow pond near some rocks, according to Wais’ testimony.
“I was a little freaked out so i wasn’t fully aware of who was around me at the time,” said Wais, when asked about the exact location of the two others who were searching.
During the search, and after the discovery of items at the river, the male walked toward the highway in the direction of a bridge according to Wais. When he got back, “it was pitch black” and the three were deciding whether or not to leave the items or take them back.
She explained that the items were eventually taken to the truck, with her male friend carrying the blanket by its edges.
Items Taken to Haʻikū
Wais said they headed straight to the Haʻikū property and had attempted to call out, but weren’t getting any service. When the driver’s phone sounded, indicating a message was received, Wais said she tried to call her mom.
At around Twin Falls, a text came through telling them to stay there and let the cops come, but they were already nearing Haʻikū and proceeded to go to Charli’s mom’s house on West Kuiaha Road.
At the house, Wais testified that Charli’s stepfather came out and told them not to touch anything. She said she saw her older sister Brooke Scott crying and went over to console her.
Wais testified that police officers had arrived and were taking pictures of the items, which were now laid out on the front yard.
Checks of Charli’s House – Missing Persons Report Filed
During Friday’s testimony, Wais said she and her mother Kimberlyn Scott had tried to call Charli on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 with no success.
The two headed to Charli’s house that evening, with Wais entering the home through a window. While within, she observed that one of Charli’s dogs, Zoey, had urinated in the house and there was no water or food for her.
The two drove to Minit Stop in Makawao where they called police to make a missing persons report. “We were antsy and wanted to get back to the house to see if she was there or if anyone had heard from her,” said Wais who testified that they had gone to their Haʻikū home where she and her mom waited for police.
In the early morning hours, of Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, at around 1 a.m., Wais testified that she and her mother returned to Charli’s house with Wais crawling through the window again. Sometime, in the course of the visit, Wais said she observed that the ‘ice cream’ dress that Charli had worn earlier in the day on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014 was laying on the bed “like she had taken it off.”
During that visit, they took the dog Zoey back to their Haʻikū house and left the property.
Search of East Maui Area Gets Underway – Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014
That day, after her mom made Charli’s stepfather breakfast and lunch, Wais and her mom headed out to Hāna to begin searching. Wais explained the delay saying they waited until everyone left because they, “didn’t want to make a huge deal,” out of the situation.
At some point, Wais said, contact was made with her older sister Brooke and with Charli’s ex-boyfriend, Steven. “Steven led us to a spot near Keʻanae. He let us know that was the spot where his car was broken down,” Wais testified.
During an interview with police, Capobianco explained that his car had stalled in an area near Keʻanae on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, and he had asked Charli Scott to drive him to to the spot the following evening so he could fix and retrieve his vehicle.
Wais said the search continued as they threw rocks and called out for Charli, but at some point, they headed back to Haʻikū.
During cross exam, defense attorney Jon Apo questioned Wais about a photo from February 9, 2014 that was taken using a ‘Face Swap’ phone app. Wais testified that she took the photo of Brooke and Charli on the night that she last saw her sister Charli Scott.
She said that while the faces were swapped at some point using the app, the photograph ended up with the faces back on the original people. When asked if the picture was tampered with, she said “No,” and explained that swapping faces back and forth, “is the point of doing the face swap.”
Defense attorney’s also questioned Wais about the blue tank top with white polka dots that was found at Nuaʻailua, and if she could have mistaken it for another article of clothing that Charli Scott was seen wearing in a different photograph.
While both had polka dots, Wais testified that the tank top had “scrunchie” sides and was different than a ‘pin-up’ dress that Charli was photographed wearing in a separate photograph that was presented as evidence in the case.
Defense attorneys also questioned Wais about records kept during the search effort and if she had signed any logs to document her participation in search. The prosecution objected to the line of questioning indicating that Wais was not in charge of the organized search effort.
During questioning, Wais also testified that while driving home to Haʻikū after searching, she and her sister Brooke Scott had received a phone call about Charli Scott’s car. “We stopped by, but it was obvious that we were not allowed in,” said Wais of the area leading down to Peʻahi or “Jaws,” where Charli Scott’s vehicle was reportedly found burned and tipped over.
The trial continues on Monday, July 18, 2016, before Chief Judge Joseph Cardoza. Following Wais’ testimony, jurors are expected to submit questions before proceeding to a next witness in the case.