Capobianco gets 50-year minimum prison term

He was sentenced to life in prison for killing pregnant, ex-girlfriend

Steven Capobianco is shown in 2nd Circuit Court during his sentencing March 24, 2017. Judge Joseph Cardoza sentenced Capobianco, who was convicted in a trial that lasted a half year, to life in prison with the possibility of parole plus 10 years. He was convicted of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend Carly “Charli” Scott. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Mandatory-minimum prison terms totaling 50 years were set for Steven Capobianco, who was convicted of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend and setting fire to her vehicle.

The Hawaii Paroling Authority set Capobianco’s minimum terms at 40 years for second-degree murder and 10 years for second-degree arson, in addition to minimum terms set for less serious offenses, said Toni Schwartz, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, on Wednesday.

Because the court sentenced Capobianco to consecutive prison terms for the murder and arson convictions, his minimum terms total 50 years before he would be eligible for parole, Schwartz said.

Kimberlyn Scott, mother of murder victim Carly “Charly” Scott, said in a phone call Wednesday that she is not confident her daughter’s killer will serve the full sentence, though, and may receive a reduced term after serving 10 years. She said Capobianco has already served four years in prison.

“This is very anticlimactic,” she said. “I don’t feel like it has any real weight or credibility because they can change their minds . . . It’s very frustrating and very confusing. In order to live with what’s going on, I believe we’ve just resigned ourselves to the fact that this is what our lives are going to be like.”

Kimberlyn Scott, mother of murder victim Carly “Charli” Scott, asks Steven Capobianco to reveal the location of her daughter’s remains while addressing the court in his sentencing on March 24, 2017. The Hawaii Paroling Authority set a minimum 50-year sentence for Capobianco.

Schwartz said via email that inmates may apply for a Reduction of Minimum after serving a third of their sentence, and that it is reviewed by the Paroling Authority only if the inmate qualifies for reconsideration. She said it does not involve an in-person hearing.

“The matter will be considered and a decision by the parole board will be made after reviewing all reports: facility, prosecutors, defense, etc.,” Schwartz said. “There is no guarantee of reducing the minimum at that time, or immediately qualifying the inmate for parole consideration.”

In December 2016, after a trial that spanned more than seven months, Capobianco was found guilty as charged of murdering Carly Scott and setting fire to her vehicle.

He was the last person known to have seen Carly Scott alive.

He told police that on the night of Feb. 9, 2014, she drove him from Haiku to about 3 miles past Keanae, where he said his truck had stalled the night before. After fixing a loose battery cable on his truck, Capobianco said he was driving back to Haiku, with Carly Scott following, when he lost sight of her headlights in the Twin Falls area.

At the time, the 27-year-old Makawao resident was five months pregnant with a son fathered by Capobianco.

In March 2017, 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza sentenced Capobianco to life in prison with the possibility of parole for murder plus 10 years for arson, ordering that Capobianco serve the prison terms consecutively.

Cardoza said it was the court’s recommendation that Capobianco serve a minimum of 70 years in prison before being eligible for parole. Scott said the Paroling Authority did not consider the recommendation.

Capobianco’s 50-year minimum term of imprisonment will expire on June 29, 2064, Schwartz said. She said he will automatically be scheduled to appear before the parole board for a parole consideration hearing during April 2064.

Capobianco, now 28, is housed at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona.

Scott said that First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera asked the parole board for 100 years, while defense attorney Jon Apo opposed it and asked for a lesser term. She said Apo reported that Capobianco was doing well psychologically and spiritually in prison and was working with dogs through a program.

“He (Apo) believes that at the next hearing Steven will win an appeal,” Scott said.

The prospect of Capobianco reducing his sentence through good behavior makes Scott “nervous,” and she also was discouraged that she was not notified by the Paroling Authority of its decision. She said she was told about the decision through news media outlets.

“I’m tired of complaining,” she said. “We keep saying things, and I feel like everyone is tired and wants to move forward. Honestly, the people who loved Charli and were affected by this are the ones stuck in this.”

Scott said she believes the prison term was “pretty much the best Hawaii could offer.” She said it does not compensate her family for the loss of her daughter as well as her unborn child, Joshua, but it does provide some peace of mind.

“I think we are glad we’ve gotten this decision,” she said. “I am not totally unhappy. I would like ‘life’ to mean actually ‘life,’ but here in our state life sentences are basically 20 years so getting 40 years is a small way of acknowledging the lives he took away.”

While Scott has followed Capobianco’s case over the years, she also has been tracking a burglary case involving her daughter’s landlord.

Nafetalai Finau of Makawao has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree burglary and second-degree theft after allegedly burglarizing Carly Scott’s home just days after her disappearance. Finau owns and lives on a property on Ahuwale Street in Makawao, where Carly Scott had been renting a unit.

The complaint alleges that the burglary occurred Feb. 10 to 15, 2014, and that a television, propane stove, baby toys and a Sony Playstation were stolen. While investigating Carly Scott’s disappearance, police reported finding the items in Finau’s home.

Last year, burglary, theft and extortion charges against Finau were dismissed without prejudice, allowing the prosecution to again charge Finau.

Scott said Finau’s sentencing will be in October and that prosecutors are still negotiating the terms. She said she would like to see Finau serve jail time, but she’s asking for at least a letter of apology, admission of guilt and community service.

“That’s a pretty big deal for us because he’s been telling people he didn’t do anything,” she said.

She also thanked Deputy Prosecutor Lyle Keanini for “doing a very good job sticking with this” despite the initial dismissal. She said landlords “ripping off tenants happens way too often and nobody talks about it,” and hopes this case will make them think twice.

A final matter Scott is pursuing is a civil lawsuit against Capobianco in the hopes of receiving the 1,100-page police report on her daughter’s murder. She said she wants the report to help her search for her daughter, but she has been denied it.

“The search never stops,” she said. “I’m switching gears now and becoming more convinced that she is in the ocean and I don’t even know what to do with that. I’m very excited because I feel the report gives us some info we really need, but I feel the government is preventing me from searching for my child.”

Wailuku attorney Richard Rost is assisting the family with the civil suit pro-bono, Scott said. She said she was very grateful to Rost and his work on the case.

“We couldn’t get anyone to help us because there’s no money in it,” she said. “If that’s not altruism, I don’t know what is.”

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@ mauinews.com. Chris Sugidono can be reached at csugidono@mauinews.com.

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