WAILUKU - A man whose murder conviction was vacated for a 1999 shooting in Kipahulu was sentenced Wednesday to a 40-year prison term after he pleaded no contest to reduced charges of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter.
Edward Dean, 55, also pleaded no contest to the charge of using a firearm in the commission of a felony for the shooting that killed 24-year-old Seth Schimberg and injured Schimberg's girlfriend, Nani Berg.
The shooting occurred Nov. 29, 1999, on a 47-acre farm property in an isolated area where Dean, Schimberg, Berg and others were living in a commune setting.
"In this court's view, the nature of the offenses demonstrates extreme violence and a callous disregard for the value of human life," 2nd Circuit Judge Joel August said as he sentenced Dean.
While Dean asked to be sentenced to 20-year prison terms to be served at the same time, August said "concurrent sentencing is not sufficient to guarantee the protection of the public or to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct by Mr. Dean."
Dean had been serving a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole after he was found guilty of killing Schimberg and using a firearm in the commission of a felony, following a trial in 2001. He was convicted for both Schimberg's killing and for shots fired at Berg and others.
Dean appealed his convictions. In 2005, the state Supreme Court vacated the convictions based on an error in a jury instruction and ordered a new trial for Dean.
Witnesses said Dean had argued with others about money the night of the shooting.
As he did during his trial in 2001, Dean said Wednesday that he acted in self-defense after being attacked the night of the shooting.
Dean alleged drug use and extortion by the victims.
Dean said his then 12-year-old son, fearing for his father, had brought Dean a loaded pistol from their tent. Dean said he was hit by Schimberg with a tree branch and was trying to hit him again. "He was confident," Dean said. "He did not know I was armed."
He was "dizzy and dazed," Dean said, when he fired two shots at Berg "with the intention to scare her away."
"I'm sure at times he just wished he had taken his beating," said Deputy Public Defender William "Pili" McGrath. "The incident occurred in a split second, really."
Incarcerated since his arrest the day after the killing, Dean has been a "model prisoner" and has tutored others to obtain the equivalent of high school diplomas, McGrath said.
Dean said he entered the no-contest pleas rather than opt for a new trial because "I don't want to drag Seth's family through this."
But First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera said Dean's description of what happened "was a physical impossibility," according to trial testimony by Dr. Anthony Manoukian, who was Maui County coroner's physician.
"The reason Seth is dead is he arrived at a gunfight with a guava stick," Rivera said. "There was no chance to survive that.
"In reality, Nani Berg and Seth Schimberg were afraid for their lives."
Schimberg was shot in the chest and died, Rivera said. He said Berg hid behind a 6-inch post when Dean fired the .32-caliber revolver at her and was shot in the arm.
Rivera said the prosecution agreed to the plea bargain "for the victims, so they can move on."
About four months before the shooting, Dean had been ordered not to possess a firearm or ammunition as part of a temporary restraining order obtained by the mother of three of his children, August said.
Yet on the night of the shooting, Dean had the loaded gun, the judge said. He said Schimberg was heading back to his house with another person when they were confronted by Dean and got into a physical fight. Schimberg, a National Honor Society student in high school, had no criminal history and had graduated from the most prestigious culinary arts institution in the country, August said.
He said that after shooting Schimberg, Dean went after Berg in the kitchen and aimed while shooting twice.
Dean was ordered to pay $3,380 in restitution to Schimberg's family and $4,000 to the state Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.