Father’s murder charge reduced; The B&B operator still faces a 45-year term in the 2003 killing of his 8-year-old girl — (The Honalulu Star-Bulletin)

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The Honalulu Star-Bulletin

By Rod Thompson, rthompson@starbulletin.com

HILO » Douglas Fathke, accused in the shooting death of his 8-year-old daughter Kelsie in 2003, accepted a plea agreement yesterday in which he was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.

Circuit Judge Glenn Hara set sentencing for March 28.

Under the original charges against him, Fathke could have received life in prison on the murder charge alone.

Under the plea agreement, Fathke, 46, still faces up to 45 years in prison for three charges: manslaughter, terroristic threatening and use of a firearm in a felony.

A single parent and a bed-and-breakfast operator in Naalehu near the southern end of the Big Island, Fathke was considered to have a mild temperament.

But on Saturday, April 19, 2003, he was seen being angry at his daughter for much of the day and was heard making strange religious statements. 

The next morning, Easter Sunday, he shot his daughter as she lay in bed, then threatened to kill his friend’s 16-year-old son, also in the house. The boy was able to get away.

Psychological evaluations by a team of experts produced various diagnoses: delusional disorder, disorder caused by possible substance abuse, and “unspecified” disorder.

Fathke denied using illegal drugs, according to his attorney, Brian De Lima. But he was being treated with antidepressant and other medications.

Fathke told Judge Hara yesterday that he had no memory of the shooting. Although Hara did not ask him if he felt remorse, his behavior displayed it, De Lima said. “It was always like it was eating away at him every day,” he said.

Held in lieu of $550,000 bail, Fathke was returned to the Hawaii Community Correctional Center to await sentencing.