State faces lawsuit by man exonerated after 20 years in jail
A man who spent 20 years in prison before his rape, kidnapping and burglary convictions were vacated and later dismissed is suing the state, Maui County and the Maui Police Department, alleging he was falsely arrested and wrongfully imprisoned.
The lawsuit brought by Alvin Jardine III also names the estate of Antonio Funes as a defendant. The late police detective was assigned to investigate the Dec. 28, 1990, knifepoint rape and assault of a 25-year-old woman in her Haiku home while her young children were sleeping.
After juries couldn’t reach verdicts in two earlier trials, Jardine was found guilty in a trial that ended in April 1992. He was sentenced to a 35-year prison term for four counts of first-degree sexual assault, three counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping and first-degree burglary.
The lawsuit says Jardine, now 43, wasn’t released on parole while incarcerated because he maintained his innocence.
But in January 2011, then-2nd Circuit Judge Joel August vacated Jardine’s convictions and ordered a new trial for Jardine based on the results of new DNA testing of a tablecloth draped over a papasan at the victim’s residence during the attack.
Testing by an independent laboratory, using science developed after Jardine was convicted, excluded Jardine as a contributor of male DNA detected on three of four stains of body fluids on the tablecloth.
According to the lawsuit, the assailant held the victim at knifepoint on his lap as he sat naked on the papasan.
The prosecution said the tablecloth wasn’t used as evidence in any of Jardine’s trials because it wasn’t considered relevant.
In fighting his convictions, Jardine was represented by attorneys working on behalf of the Hawaii Innocence Project, which called it a case of “actual innocence.”
But the prosecution said there was no legal finding of Jardine’s innocence.
At the request of the prosecution, which said it didn’t want the victim traumatized again, the charges against Jardine were dismissed in July 2011.
Jardine’s lawsuit also alleges that Funes “fabricated evidence” in the case by making statements to direct a group of children to identify Jardine as the assailant. The lawsuit also says the victim had heard the name “Alvin” mentioned before picking his photo out of a Maui High School yearbook, in which Jardine was the only “Alvin.”
Deputy Corporation Counsel Moana Lutey, representing the county, police department and Funes’ estate, contested the allegations about Funes.
“He was a well-seasoned and respected detective, and the claims they are making against him are irresponsible and unfounded,” she said.
She called the lawsuit “a rehash of what should have been raised at his trial.”
“We vigorously defend against frivolous lawsuits,” Lutey said.
Toni Schwartz, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, said the state attorney general’s office advises the department not to comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 17 in 2nd Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages.
Wailuku attorneys Joseph Wildman and Matson Kelley are representing Jardine.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.