Pacheco trial delayed until March — (West Hawaii Today)

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West Hawaii Today

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

By TIFFANY EDWARDS

HILO – Next week’s trial for the former Kona police detective accused of killing his wife has been postponed to allow his attorney time to research the connection between anti – depressants and violence.
Albert Pacheco, 47, will stand trial in March for four felony charges related to the shooting death of his wife, Cathalene, in their Waikoloa neighborhood Jan. 4, 2002.
Pacheco allegedly used his service revolver to shoot his wife numerous times in the head and neck through a closed driver’s side window, after first using his county – subsidized patrol car to ram the back end of the mini – van she was driving.
Pacheco had been with the Big Island Police Department 11 years, and for nearly three years had been assigned to the Kona Criminal Investigative Section, when the shooting occurred.
Pacheco, who has been incarcerated since the shooting, has twice waived his speedy trial rights, most recently in July when his court – appointed lawyer Stanton Oshiro requested the second delay for the trial then set to begin Sept. 8.
“In addition to the normal difficulty associated with the defense of a murder case, DNA evidence, and additional mental health issues have arisen which require further exploration,” Oshiro stated in the motion requesting a continuance.
Pacheco at his arraignment pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency to second – degree murder, use of a firearm to commit a separate felony, terroristic threatening and criminal property damage.
But three court-ordered medical examinations determined, while Pacheco suffered from depression, he was competent to stand trial.
A February mental fitness hearing revealed Pacheco, within a couple of days of his arrest, attempted suicide in a holding cell at the police station in Hilo and had been taking the anti – depressant Zoloft at least since then.
Oshiro stated in his July motion “at the time of the incident (Pacheco) was under the influence of prescription medications which had been prescribed to treat (his) depression.”
He did not disclose specifically what had been prescribed to Pacheco but asserted the medication “has been linked to a number of murders, assaults, and other violent offenses.”
“The link between this particular medication (and similar medications called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) is both well documented and controversial and the proper preparation of (Pacheco’s) case absolutely requires that this defense be explored,” Oshiro wrote.
Noting his review of “the records and files and other discovery in this case,” Oshiro asserted to Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura, “there is no question that the defendant’s involvement in this incident may very well have been caused by his ingestion of the medications prescribed to him.”
Four days after his arrest, Pacheco revealed in an “Application For Release Without Bail,” he was taking prescription drugs, but did not specify what he was taking.
He answered “no” to the question, “Do you suffer from schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder?” and he did not answer whether he has “ever been treated for mental health or emotional problems.”
An Internet search on the connection between “Zoloft” and “violence” results in more than 1,200 Web site listings.
ClassActionAmerica.com states 200 legal actions have been filed against Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKine, the manufacturers of Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Paxil (paroxetine) “for suicides or homicides – some completed, some only attempted – by patients in the first few days or weeks after they were prescribed one of these drugs.”
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The Honalulu Advertiser

By Kevin Dayton

Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai’i — Former Kona police detective Albert Pacheco has been sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for “ambushing” his wife and shooting her to death two years ago.

Deputy prosecutor Michael Udovic said Cathalene Pacheco, 43, was talking on the phone to one of her daughters when she was attacked on Jan. 4, 2002. Her last words were, “Albert, think of the kids,” Udovic said.

The couple had two daughters and two sons, Udovic said. A lawyer for the family said the daughters were 16 and 17 at the time, and the sons were 5 and 7.

Big Island Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura sentenced Albert Pacheco, 48, on Monday to a mandatory sentence of life in prison with possibility of parole for second-degree murder, and imposed a 15-year minimum because a firearm was used.

Nakamura also imposed a separate, consecutive sentence of up to 20 years in prison for the separate offense of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. Pacheco must serve that 20-year term after he serves his murder sentence, Udovic said.

“I think the evidence really, clearly showed that he lured her to the location where he ambushed her,” Udovic said. “It was all purposeful conduct on his part, calculated to cause her death.”

The couple separated when Cathalene Pacheco, a real estate agent, moved out of their home in Waikoloa, and moved in with a friend on the same street, said Dennis Krueger, a lawyer for the children. Krueger said Cathalene Pacheco would go to the house in the mornings to help her sons get ready for school.

On the day of the murder, Albert asked Cathalene to come to his house to babysit their sons so he could go out that night, Udovic said. Before she reached the house, Albert rammed his county-subsidized car into Cathalene’s van and shot her repeatedly.

Albert Pacheco resigned from the Big Island department a month after the murder, and pleaded guilty to the slaying in June 2004.

Cathalene Pacheco’s children have sued the police department, alleging that police were negligent in hiring and supervising Pacheco; that Pacheco was mentally unstable and that the department should have known that; and that Pacheco should not have been carrying a firearm.

The suit also alleges the county is liable in the shooting because the murder was carried out with a county-owned firearm.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 935-3916.