HONOLULU (AP) — Ian Schweitzer woke up on his first freedom Wednesday morning in his hotel room, overlooking the ocean balcony and feeling the beauty of an island more than 20 years away. He has always denied committing the 1991 murder and rape.
In an interview with The Associated Press from The Big Island, he reflected on his mixed feelings. From his faith in God that keeps him positive, to his mixed feelings about the police and the criminal justice system, to his quest to resolve who really killed Dana. Ireland.
“We want justice for Dana,” Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer said he considers himself a victim of the same crime for which he was convicted. I feel like he was kidnapped by his family. I feel like they raped me being their son. ”
After hours of expert testimony on new evidence showing Schweitzer was not responsible for the death of a 23-year-old Irish traveler from Virginia, a judge said Tuesday that he ordered the release of Big When she was visiting a remote part of the island, she was found raped, beaten and barely alive on a fishing trail. She later died in hospital.
Thanks to advances in DNA testing, new evidence has revealed that a T-shirt found nearby and soaked in Irish blood belonged to an unknown man, Schweitzer and two others convicted of killing her. It contained the discovery that it was not human.
Hawaii County Prosecutor Kelden Wolgen said in a statement this week that his office is committed to identifying the unknown man. rice field.
Big Island Mayor Mitch Ross, who served as an attorney when the Innocence Project and prosecutors agreed to reinvestigate in 2019, said Wednesday that “the frustration remains that we don’t know whose DNA it is.” rice field.
Multiple attempts by the Associated Press to contact relatives in Ireland were unsuccessful.
“I think I have a sister there. God bless you,” Schweitzer said. “I want her to know that my team intends to do everything possible to work with prosecutors to discover unknown DNA.
Lawyers for the Innocence Project in Hawaii and New York filed a petition late Monday outlining new evidence and seeking Schweitzer’s release. They are also considering Hawaii law that would allow him to collect $50,000 for each year he was incarcerated.
One of his New York attorneys, Barry Scheck, doesn’t think prosecutors will bring any more charges and hopes Hawaii can learn from the case.
“When three innocent people could be convicted in the biggest murder in state history, people have to take a step back and think about how we can prevent this from happening again.” said.
Lawyers are now trying to clear the remaining two charges. Among them is Schweitzer’s younger brother Sean. Sean made a guilty plea deal after his brother was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to 130 years in prison.
Younger brother Schweitzer backed off in October, backing his brother’s plea for release.
Attorney Keith Shigetomi, who counseled Sean Schweitzer when he pleaded guilty in exchange for about a year in prison, said Wednesday that he was indeed able to convince jurors of his client’s innocence at the time. He said he believed, but Sean Schweitzer meant that if he told the truth, he would suffer the same fate as his brother.
My family thought so. “Ian said to him, go ahead and save yourself.”
The Schweitzer family became suspects under intense pressure to find the Irish killer. In 1994, Frank Paulin Jr. stepped in front of her, claiming he was with them when Ian Schweitzer killed her by running over an Irish bicycle.
However, he was interviewed at least seven times, giving inconsistent explanations each time. He said he lied in an attempt to drop the charges.
Pauline was convicted along with her brother and was murdered by fellow inmates in a New Mexico prison in 2015.
Miles Brainer, an attorney representing Pauline’s family, said Wednesday that she will file a petition seeking exoneration after Pauline’s death.
Ian Schweitzer said it was clear that the justice system was flawed.
“It didn’t matter if I was innocent,” he said. “They just needed certainty.”
Martin Tanklef knows how Schweitzer feels. He was convicted of murdering his parents in Long Island, New York, and was released in 2007 after serving 17 years in prison.
“The best advice I can give him is to go very slow,” Tanclev said, recalling being overwhelmed by everyday things like the cereal aisle choices at the grocery store. “The world will be completely different.”
Schweitzer served time in Arizona because there was a shortage of prison space in Hawaii. Back on the Big Island, he reflected on what it was like to be in his home.
“Sitting in this beautiful hotel, it looks the same,” he said. “But once I hit the street, I know that everything has changed, everything has changed.”
AP journalist Claire Rush of Portland and researcher Jennifer Farrar of New York contributed to this report.