Convicted killer tries to get new murder charge thrown out - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Convicted killer tries to get new murder charge thrown out

Darnell Griffin Darnell Griffin
Evelyn Luka Evelyn Luka
Edward Aquino Edward Aquino
Darnell Griffin Darnell Griffin

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - After being a cold case for eight years, a suspect in a Waipio murder is set to go to trial next month. But on Thursday, Darnell Griffin asked a judge to dismiss the charges against him.

Griffin previously served time for another murder.

A convicted killer sits in a courtroom, hoping a second murder charge will go away. Darnell Griffin's attorney says police failed to conduct a thorough investigation, and that other people could have committed the crime.

"They're linking Mr. Griffin to this based on DNA evidence," Edward Aquino, deputy public defender, said. "But beyond that, my understanding of the state's case is the rest is circumstantial evidence. Nothing else directly links Mr. Griffin to this."

Evelyn Luka was raped and strangled nearly a decade ago. She was found unconscious and severely beaten along the H-2 Freeway in Waipio September 6, 1999, and died about a month later.

"Ms. Luka, unfortunately, led a pretty risky lifestyle," Aquino said. "She would go out to a nightclub and, you know, it wasn't even a surprise for her husband that she would pick up somebody and go home with them."

But prosecutors say DNA evidence taken from the victim matches Griffin's DNA profile, which is in the national database because he was convicted of murdering another woman back in 1980.

"We may use so-called bad acts by the defendant," Kevin Takata, deputy prosecutor, said. "We don't intend to use it in the case in chief. However, if defense opens the door, then we reserve the right to get into those matters."

The defense argues this case should be dismissed because the loss of potential witnesses in the eight-year gap between Luka's slaying and charges being brought hurts Griffin. The judge denies that motion.

The defense also says the grand jury that charged the case was tainted by improper comments made by one of the lawyers. The judge is waiting for more information and is expected to rule on that next month.

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