Trial for accused Waikoloa stabber may be delayed


BY JOHN BURNETT

STEPHENS MEDIA

jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com

HILO — Trial could be delayed again for a former Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort houseman accused of stabbing his wife to death more than a year-and-a-half ago.

Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara ordered Steve Santos Dingle, 48, to return to court Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. because no Ilocano language interpreter was available Wednesday afternoon for Dingle, who was born in the Philippines.

Dingle has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for allegedly stabbing his 38-year-old wife, Cathy Esteves Dingle, repeatedly with a large kitchen knife on May 29, 2010, in broad daylight along the Hilo Bayfront. The attack was witnessed by dozens of motorists and passersby, many celebrating Memorial Day weekend. She died the next morning at Hilo Medical Center.

The brutal slaying of the mother of four and the arrest of her husband sent shock waves through the island's Filipino community.

Dingle remains in custody in Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $1 million bail.

If Hara grants the request by Dingle's court-appointed attorney, Stanton Oshiro, to continue the trial, which is scheduled to start on Feb. 6, it will be the third such postponement granted.

At trial, Oshiro is expected argue that at the time Dingle allegedly attacked his wife, he suffered from extreme mental and emotional distress — known as the "EMED" defense.

According to court records, Hara in October granted a defense request to hire an expert witness to examine Dingle and to testify on his behalf. The expert could cost taxpayers up to $6,000.

Prosecutors have filed a motion to allow their own EMED expert, Waimea psychologist Harold Hall, to examine Dingle. Hall testified for the prosecution in the murder trial of former Waikoloa Beach Marriott employee Lito Mateo, who was sentenced in February 2010 to life plus 20 years in prison for the fatal shooting of his wife's longtime lover, Tito Rafol, in the hotel's employee parking lot.

In September 2010, Dingle was found fit to stand trial by a panel of three court-appointed mental health professionals, psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Paltin and psychologists Alex Lichton and Walter Jaeckle.