Witness testifies to seeing torched 4Runner
WAILUKU – A missing pregnant woman’s vehicle was burned but otherwise intact and upright near the “Jaws” surf spot in Peahi the night after she was last seen, a Haiku resident testified Tuesday.
Robert Lee said he was driving through the area, which is known as a dumpsite for vehicles, when he saw the Toyota 4Runner.
“I saw this vehicle was completely burned and didn’t look like anything was wrong with it,” Lee said. “I thought it was a stolen car or something. It didn’t look like anything was salvageable.”
Lee said he saw the 4Runner on “a Monday night, I believe,” which would have been Feb. 10, 2014, the night after 27-year-old Makawao resident Carly “Charli” Scott was last seen alive.
Lee testified in the 2nd Circuit Court murder trial of Scott’s ex-boyfriend Steven Capobianco.
Capobianco, 26, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder of Scott and second-degree arson of her vehicle.
He told police he last saw her the night of Feb. 9, 2014, when she drove him from Haiku to about 3 miles past Keanae to retrieve his truck, which he said had stalled there the night before. Capobianco said he was driving back to Haiku, with Scott following, when he lost sight of her headlights in the Twin Falls area.
In court Tuesday, Lee said the 4Runner he saw Feb. 10, 2014, was the same one in photographs taken the evening of Feb. 12, 2014, when police recovered the vehicle from the “Jaws” area.
The 1997 Toyota 4Runner, which belonged to Scott, was overturned on its driver’s side, with all four doors and the front grill missing when police recovered it. Its license plate was lying on the ground in front of the vehicle, said police evidence specialist Anthony Earles.
In contrast, Lee said the 4Runner had all its doors when he saw it. “It was all complete except it was burned,” Lee said. “It was all intact. Everything that I could see was intact.”
Lee, who was working as a mechanic, said he lives about a mile away from “Jaws” and has gone there for five or six years to look for car parts from abandoned vehicles to recycle.
Lee said he didn’t take any parts from the 4Runner. The same night, he said he told his friend Christopher Fanelli, who also recycles car parts, about the vehicle.
Earlier in the trial, Fanelli testified he took the tow package and removed the gas tank to reach the fuel pump of the 4Runner. Fanelli said his friend removed copper wiring from the vehicle.
Lee said he learned the doors had been removed from the 4Runner about a week later when Capt. Richard “Danny” Dods went to Lee’s residence and asked if Lee knew what happened to the doors. “He asked me if I could help him find them, if I can point him in the right direction,” Lee said.
When Dods offered money, Lee said he agreed to “see what I can do.”
About three days later, “I found out, through asking around, that the doors were thrown away in the Old Maui High School area,” Lee said.
He said he called Dods and showed him the grassy areas where the burned doors were. Lee said he received $200 or $300 that he had to sign for.
Lee acknowledged having criminal convictions in the 1990s for drug offenses in both state and federal courts. He said he also has a pending case for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.
During cross-examination, defense attorney Jon Apo asked Lee whom he talked to for information on the location of the 4Runner doors.
“That’s confidential,” Lee said.
He said he didn’t give the name to Dods.
“So if Detective Dods didn’t know who it was, he couldn’t follow up on that person’s involvement in anything?” Apo asked.
Lee said yes.
Lee took the witness stand after testimony Tuesday morning by Dr. Stacy Ammerman, an obstetrician and gynecologist who saw Scott twice in January 2014.
On Scott’s first office visit on Jan. 15, 2014, “she seemed calm, normal, not in any distress or anxious by any means,” Ammerman said.
She ordered an anatomy scan that was done two days later at Maui Diagnostic Imaging.
Sonogram images from the Jan. 17, 2014, ultrasound calculated the gestational age of Scott’s baby at 19 weeks and three days, Ammerman said. She said the baby’s due date was June 12, 2014.
Scott said she didn’t want to know the gender of the baby, Ammerman said. “Carly wanted to do a gender reveal party.”
In that case, typically one of her sonogram images would have been placed in an envelope with the gender written on it, Ammerman said.
“This is a gender shot,” Ammerman said, as a sonogram from Scott’s ultrasound was shown to the jury. “She was having a boy.”
Ammerman said she saw Scott for a follow-up visit on Jan. 27, 2014, and she had another appointment scheduled for the end of February.
The trial was scheduled to resume today before Judge Joseph Cardoza.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.