Prosecutor: Defendant had motive for starting fatal fire - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Prosecutor: Defendant had motive for starting fatal fire

Posted: Updated:
James Kimo Moses James Kimo Moses
KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

James Kimo Moses showed no outward emotion as the prosecutor told the jury Moses burned down a Kalihi boarding house in February 2011.

"The defendant, James Kimo Moses, is the one who would do such a thing -- and did such a thing," Darrell Wong said.

The two-story rooming house was on Liliha Street. The midnight fire killed one tenant and injured two others.

"It took the life of Clarence Isobe, the one and only tenant that didn't make it out alive that fateful night," Wong said.

The 76-year-old victim was burned over 50 percent of his body. Investigators said someone poured gasoline on a wooden stairway then set it on fire. There are no eyewitnesses to the crime. The prosecutor said Moses confessed to a friend and even watched the house burn. But deputy public defender Craig Nagamine said Moses is being framed.

"That evidence would be very convincing if it were true," he told the jury. "This is a case about trying to pin it on Kimo. There was no physical evidence left at the scene which would identify the person or the persons who had done that."

About 20 people lived in the boarding house. Moses lived there for five years until he was evicted. Wong said he burned the house as payback.

"The fire that burned down the boarding house was done intentionally," he said.

The defense admits Moses was upset about being kicked out but not to the point that he started the blaze.

"From the beginning of this case the state has tried to make the evidence fit their theory," Nagamine said.

Moses is charged with second-degree murder, several attempted murder charges and arson.

Follow Jim Mendoza:    

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved