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Witness: Capobianco wanted Scott to abort baby

WAILUKU – After hearing that his ex-girlfriend planned to keep the baby he fathered, murder suspect Steven Capobianco was “nervous” and “panicked,” a witness said Wednesday.

Testifying in Capobianco’s 2nd Circuit Court murder trial, Fiona Wais recounted her phone conversation with Capobianco in December 2013 after Carly “Charli” Scott had told family members she was pregnant with his child.

“He said it would ruin plans he had with a current girlfriend and that it wasn’t what was supposed to be happening and he needed to talk to Charli,” said Wais, who is Scott’s younger half sister. “I don’t believe he was able to get ahold of Charli that night.”

Capobianco, 26, has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder of Scott and the second-degree arson of her vehicle.

He told police he last saw Scott the night of Feb. 9, 2014, when she drove him to retrieve his truck, which he said had stalled on Hana Highway past Keanae the night before. After he fixed a loose battery on the truck, Capobianco told detectives he drove back to Haiku, with Scott following in her vehicle. He said he lost sight of her headlights near the Twin Falls area of Haiku.

At the time, the 27-year-old Makawao resident was in her fifth month of pregnancy.

During her testimony Wednesday, Wais said Scott had told family members, including her mother and sisters, that she was pregnant during a gathering at Wais’ house in the Rice Camp area of Haiku in December 2013.

They had opened Christmas presents and eaten, Wais said.

“We were just sitting around, enjoying our time together,” Wais said. “Charli told us she had a bit of news to tell us all. She told us that she was pregnant.”

Wais said family members were surprised.

“Jaws dropped, eyes were opened,” she said. “There was silence for a couple of minutes. Then we all got into asking her questions and being happy for her.”

Wais said their mother hugged Scott and smiled. “Seeing how happy Charli was made us all happy for her,” Wais said.

She said she sent a text message to Capobianco.

“I was curious as to whether or not he knew he had impregnated Charli,” Wais said. “I texted him as to whether he was aware of the fact.”

She said Capobianco texted back: “I thought she had taken care of it.”

Wais said she didn’t respond to his text.

Then she said she got a call from Capobianco.

“He called and asked how I knew, and I told him Charli had told me directly,” Wais said. “Then he went on to state he thought Charli had agreed to take care of it. I told him she had chosen obviously to keep the child, and she wanted to be a mother.

“From there on, it was a one-sided conversation. He was kind of nervous or panicked-sounding. He, like, didn’t believe it.”

From the conversation, Wais said it sounded like Capobianco had thought Scott was going to have an abortion.

“I guess he was having an array of emotional feelings on the phone,” Wais said.

First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera asked what made Wais think Capobianco was panicked.

“He sounded short of breath and rushed as he was speaking,” Wais said.

She said she called Capobianco again on her birthday May 14, 2014, when family members learned Scott’s disappearance was being reclassified from a missing person’s case to a homicide.

“I just wanted to clarify and ask him a few questions on my own, what his theory was or what could have happened, since he was the last one with her,” Wais said.

She said Capobianco responded: “I’m not sure, but I have a hypothesis that Charli could have picked up a hitchhiker.”

“To me, that just didn’t make any sense,” Wais said.

Because Capobianco had said Scott was following him back to Haiku the night she was last seen, “if there was a hitchhiker on the side of the road, he would have seen the person and at least be able to give a description,” Wais said.

She said Capobianco didn’t say he had seen a hitchhiker.

Wais said she last saw Scott earlier that day at Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao, where Scott worked as a front desk assistant. Their sisters and mother also were there to see work Scott had done for an art exhibit and to celebrate sister Brooke Scott’s birthday, Wais said.

“We were having fun and enjoying each other’s company,” Wais said.

She said she was leaving to go to work at the same time Scott was leaving to tend to her dogs. “As I was saying goodbye, I was just going to walk away,” Wais said when Scott called her over.

“She said, ‘I love you.’ I told her, ‘I love you too,’ ” Wais said. “We gave each other a hug. And that was the last time I saw Charli.”

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Jon Apo, Wais said she and Scott, who is seven or eight years older, had some disputes because Scott “wanted to take on a motherly role and I still looked at her as an older sister.”

“We were distancing ourselves because it was becoming hurtful,” Wais said.

Apo asked if Capobianco was hated by her family. “I wouldn’t say hated,” Wais said.

She acknowledged that Capobianco hadn’t been allowed at her mother’s house since at least 2011. When Scott disappeared, she hadn’t been allowed at her mother’s house for about a couple of months because Scott and her stepfather weren’t getting along, Wais said.

Wais’ younger sister Phaedra Wais testified that she last saw Scott the night of Feb. 9, 2014, when they watched a movie at the residence of their older sister Brooke Scott, who lived with her boyfriend in a residence on the same property as their mother and stepfather.

That night, Phaedra Wais said Charli Scott could feel her baby kicking.

When Scott left that night, “she was happy,” she said.

She said Scott became “my closest sister” after she moved to Maui from Woodland, Calif., in 2010 when she was 13.

Phaedra Wais said she would spend about half the time with her mother and stepfather, who then lived in Huelo, and the other half with Scott and Capobianco in Kula.

Phaedra Wais said she would stay with Scott in her bedroom or in the spare bedroom, while Capobianco would sleep on the couch or in the spare room.

Asked about her relationship with Scott, Phaedra Wais said, “She was my guardian and best friend. She was pretty much everything.”

When she stayed with Scott and Capobianco, “I would see Charli cooking. She would clean,” she said. “Steven would play video games. He would be working on his car. I never really saw them do much together.”

Like her older sister Fiona, Phaedra Wais testified that she didn’t hear Capobianco say or do anything affectionate to Scott.

“She was very motherly,” Phaedra Wais said. “She just always wanted to cook for him. She wanted to take care of him. She loved him. She wanted to do everything.”

On Feb. 10, 2014, after not hearing from Scott all day and into the evening, Phaedra Wais said her mother used a phone app to track Scott’s phone. She said her mother’s phone showed the spot of the last location of Scott’s phone at 10:56 p.m. Feb. 9, 2014, in Keanae before it “lost connection.”

Scott’s mother called police to report her missing the night of Feb. 10, 2014.

The next morning, Phaedra Wais said family members drove toward Hana searching for Scott.

She said she had been with her mother heading back to Haiku when they saw Brooke Scott heading out to Hana. Phaedra Wais got into her sister’s car to head back out toward Hana.

The sisters were returning toward Haiku when they “saw a road that we’ve never really seen before” and pulled over, Phaedra Wais said.

“We saw lights coming up and realized that it was Steven,” she said.

She said Capobianco stopped and talked to them as he headed up the dirt road leading to Nuaailua Bay, which is also known as “Paraquats” beach.

“He said that he had already checked it out down there,” Phaedra Wais said.

She said Capobianco asked if the sisters wanted to go down to the bay in his 4Runner, which could make it down the road.

Because it was dark, she said they didn’t go with Capobianco.

She said she did go down to the bay two days later on Feb. 13, 2014, with two others.

Phaedra Wais is expected to continue testifying about that day when the trial resumes Friday.

With the jury out of the courtroom Wednesday morning, defense attorney Matthew Nardi asked the court to dismiss the case with prejudice, saying the defense had received a recording of Sgt. Wendell Loo’s interview with Brooke Scott only Monday.

Nardi said the recording contained information, including “a list of at least four people who are suspects” that the defense previously hadn’t known about.

Judge Joseph Cardoza told Nardi to file a written motion on his request for a dismissal.

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

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