Maui News

Capobianco’s Request for New Trial Delayed

February 17, 2017, 12:16 PM HST
* Updated February 17, 2:40 PM
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Steven Capobianco’s request for a new trial has been delayed until March after his defense team asked for more time to submit additional information.

On Thursday, Feb. 16, Defense Attorney Jon Apo asked Judge Joseph Cardoza to overturn Capobianco’s guilty verdict due to jury misconduct, misconduct by the prosecutor and a court error regarding phone records not being allowed in court.

(L-R) Steven Capobianco with his defense team, attorneys Matthew Nardi, Jon Apo. PC: 12.14.16 by Wendy Osher.

One issue that Apo put on record was what First Deputy Prosecutor Robert Rivera said in closing arguments regarding Scott’s jawbone and that it was speaking to the jury.

Apo is also arguing jury misconduct, saying there was a seven-day break in the trial that exposed jurors to news coverage about the case.

Lastly, the defense team is questioning phone records of Carly “Charli” Scott’s sister, Phaedra Wais, that the court did not allow as evidence.


The prosecution is opposing the request for a new trial.


On Dec. 28, 2016, the jury unanimously found Capobianco guilty of second-degree murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend and second-degree arson of her vehicle.

In addition to finding Capobianco guilty of the charges, the jury answered “yes” to the question of whether the murder of Scott was “especially heinous, atrocious and cruel.”

The jury’s response means Capobianco qualifies for a sentence of life in prison without parole.


The hearing on Capobianco’s request for a new trial was rescheduled for March 6.

Case History/Background

Steven Capobianco was found guilty for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Carly “Charli” Scott and for setting her vehicle on fire in February of 2014.

Scott was 27-years-old and five months pregnant at the time with an unborn child fathered by the defendant. Capobianco pleaded not guilty to the charges but was found guilty on both counts on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016.

Capobianco is the last person known to have seen Scott alive. In the days following Charli Scott’s disappearance, Capobianco had done an interview with police in which he said Scott had picked him up on the night of Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, and dropped him off at his truck that he said got stuck in Keʻanae on Feb. 8, 2014.

According to the account, both headed back to Haʻikū, with Scott following Capobianco in case his vehicle broke down again. Scott was reported missing the next night on Feb. 10, 2014.

In closing arguments, the defense suggested that the story Capobianco told police could have been lie to cover up a drug deal involving marijuana. Defense Attorney Jon Apo said, “This big lie, the state says is proof of murder–Ladies and gentlemen, why would it be a surprise to anyone that a drug dealer, as the state has evidenced him to be, would be lying to a detective about why he was at a particular location?”

Prosecuting attorney Robert Rivera said that Capobianco was the “only person with a motive, the opportunity and intent,” and said it was “utterly and absolutely ridiculous,” that “he didn’t try to clear his name and continued to lie just to cover up some kind of marijuana deal.”

The defense also argued that marks left on a jawbone recovered from Nuaʻailua were consistent with scoring from a pig or wild boar. “Dr. Laufer tells you that parallelism of the scratches make it highly unlikely that those were caused by a knife,” Apo said during closing arguments.

That argument was contrary to the testimony presented by several witnesses for the prosecution who said the marks were consistent with a knife. Dr. Lindsey K Harle a Forensic Pathologist with Clinical Labs of Hawaiʻi testified that incision injuries were likely inflicted by “someone attacking her with a sharp object” or someone using a knife to “essentially de-flesh the bone.”

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