LIHU‘E — The doctor who performed the autopsy on Aureo Moore said the 34-year-old man had been shot five times by a small caliber weapon.
Concluding the second week of testimony in 5th Circuit Court on Friday, Dr. Alvin Omori, a forensic pathologist who performs autopsies on Kaua‘i and the Big Island, said he is brought in when there are potential legal consequences related to the manner in which a violent or unnatural death has occurred.
The testimony was for the jury in the first-degree murder trial of Vicente Kote Kapika Hilario, 26, of Anahola, who is charged with the shooting death of Moore. He is also charged with second-degree murder in the alternative, retaliating against a witness, intimidating a witness and bribery of a witness.
Omori testified to performing the autopsy of Aureo Moore in the presence of police at the morgue at Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Dec. 20, 2010. One of the radiographs used to help locate the presence of bullets within the body was shown in court Friday.
The bullets mushroomed upon impact, and they were small caliber bullets.
After examining Moore’s abdomen, chest and head to determine the cause of death and the manner of death, Omori said Moore was shot five times with an additional grazing wound across the chest. There were no exit wounds and all but one bullet was removed, he said.
The two shots to the head were the cause of death, Omori said, adding it caused a fatal brain injury when they crossed into the cranial cavity.
The bullets to the back entered low with an upper trajectory, Omori said. They did not enter the chest or lungs and Moore would likely have survived these wounds, he said.
One bullet to the side of the neck was not removed.
The abrasions and bruises that Moore suffered to the chest, hands and thigh area were consistent with a fall caused by the shooting, he added.
County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Melinda Mendes asked Omori about “stippling”, a term used to describe the effect of burning soot and gunpowder residue on the skin from a gunshot at very close range.
Omori said there was no stippling apparent on Moore. He said this meant the weapon was at least two barrel lengths away from the victim when it was fired.
Defense attorney Keith Shigetomi questioned Omori about unusual marks on Moore’s body and if he had conducted a blood panel. He replied tracking marks were found on the forward side of the elbow of each arm — an indication of possible illicit drug use.
With the toxicology screening showing the presence of tranquilizers, painkillers, depressants and stimulants, Omori confirmed this was an indication of substance abuse.
Mendes followed by asking Omori to state that drugs were not the cause of death.
“That is correct,” he said.
Shigetomi concluded his cross examination of Brahm Moore, who is Aureo’s older brother. He asked Brahm why he had not fully disclosed all information regarding Angienora Crawford, who testified of dropping Moore off at Anahola Beach Park, to police the night of the murder.
Was it self-preservation, not wanting to disclose your own drug use?
“Yes,” Brahm said.
According to a Dec. 17 report, police had asked Brahm if he could think of anyone who might know more about the shooting, Shigetomi said. He allegedly told them to “go ask Pua”, and when they asked for her phone number he said it was blocked when it wasn’t.
Shigetomi said Brahm testified that he didn’t trust Crawford, and felt that she might possibly have something to do with his brother’s death. He asked why did he wait 19 days to provide her phone number and a complete account of what happened that day.
Shigetomi said the exchanged phone numbers between Brahm and Crawford after she showed up at a Anahola general store without Aureo, just minutes after sirens went racing to the beach park on Dec. 17, 2010.
He asking Crawford not to say he was there that day in Anahola.
“Did you conspire with a person that you did not trust?” Shigetomi asked.
“Yes,” Brahm replied.
Mendes followed by putting Brahm’s testimony in perspective.
“Was your brother hurting?” Mendes asked.
“He was in withdrawal,” he replied.
“Do you regret not being totally forthcoming that night?” she added.
“Yes,” he said.
Mendes also asked if the phone number from Crawford appeared on his cell phone as “blocked” as he indicated to police in his report.
“I can’t recall,” he said.
Kaua‘i Police Lt. Dan Miyamoto and County Council Member Melvin Rapozo both testified to their roles in the investigation of the armed robbery of Aureo Moore on Aug. 22, 2012. Miyamoto photographed Hilario’s car after a warrant was served, while Rapozo was a special investigator for the County Prosecuting Attorney at the time, who served Moore with a subpoena to appear in 5th District Court for a preliminary hearing on the robbery.
Prior to their testimony, Mendes played a 40-minute audio recording of a Sept. 9, 2010, preliminary hearing to the jury. In the tape, Moore is on the stand being questioned by three attorneys representing Hilario, Kyle Akau and Akoni Davis.
Moore took the witness stand and answered questions from a deputy prosecutor and three court-appointed defense attorneys representing the three suspects.
In the tape, Moore said he was one of four people in a vehicle at the Kaua‘i Village Shopping Center parking lot and saw Hilario’s car nearby. As he walked alone across the pedestrian bridge toward McDonalds, he said he was approached from behind by a man with a .22-caliber pistol who would fire the weapon as a threat to take his money. Instead, he took the contents of two bottles of Moore’s oxycodone and morphine pills, and then followed Moore to the car and took around $900 from him, Moore said in the two-year-old tape.
Davis was apparently collecting the spent shell casings as he fired another two rounds, Moore said. The two suspects went back over the bridge and although Moore said he never saw them enter Hilario’s car, the vehicle left around the same time, he added.
One of the attorneys asked if there was a fifth passenger in the vehicle. Moore said there was not.
Moore testified that he knew Hilario and had twice saw him since the robbery. Moore was to testify in the initial Dec. 27, 2010, robbery trial against Akau, but he was murdered 10 days earlier.
Akau’s trial was continued and he entered a no contest plea on the third day of his jury trial on Feb. 24, 2012. He pleaded to a reduced count of second-degree robbery, and ownership or possession of a handgun or ammunition by someone prohibited by committing certain felonies.
Judge Kathleen Watanabe sentenced Akau to 18 months in jail and a five-year felony probation on May 16, 2012. He returned on a bench warrant for violating probation on Feb. 5, and his hearing on the matter was continued to March 5.
Hilario and Davis had their cases dismissed at the preliminary hearing. The charges against Hilario were brought back after a December grand jury indicted him on felony drug and firearms charges. His trial date is scheduled to follow the murder trial on April 13.
Testimony in the murder trial will continue on Tuesday.
• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or email@example.com.