Man Accused of Stealing Dead Man's Identity on Trial

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Friend or foe? That's what an Oahu jury must decide in the trial of a man accused of stealing the identity of a man found dead in the Philippines.

Attorneys from both sides delivered their opening statements Friday morning. Henry Calucag Junior is charged with ID theft, credit card fraud, unauthorized computer use, and theft.

Prosecutors say he used forged documents to take possession of land on Kauai belonging to his polo partner, John Elwin. Calucag is also accused of using his credit card numbers without permission.

Authorities in the Philippines found Elwin's body with multiple gunshot wounds last year.

Defense attorneys say, before he died, Elwin turned his land over to Calucag because he owed him $370,000.

"There's no possibility that there was any manipulation done on this," Mark Kawata, defense attorney, said. "The Government's case is a house of cards, and it's going to fall apart as soon as you see those documents."

"The police looked all of John's financial records. They looked at the defendant's financial records," Chris Van Marter, deputy prosecutor, said. "And there was no evidence at all that the defendant gave John anything, anything at all for that piece of property on Kauai."

"There's no forgery in the classic sense that we, you folks know of it and I think about because the signature on the deed is perfectly genuine," Kawata said. "John Elwin signed the deed."

"The defendant betrayed the trust of a friend," Van Marter said. "John had been very generous to him, and he betrayed that trust, took his vehicle, his land, the cash, all of that without giving anything in return."

The trial continues Monday.