Ka Loko Dam break defendant pleads not guilty - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Ka Loko Dam break defendant pleads not guilty

William McCorriston William McCorriston
James Pflueger James Pflueger
Judge Randal Valenciano Judge Randal Valenciano

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

KAUAI (KHNL) - The man blamed for the deadly Ka Loko Dam break, tells a Kauai court, he's not responsible.  The 2006 tragedy destroyed homes and swept seven people to their deaths.

Defendant James Pflueger faces seven counts of manslaughter and one of reckless endangerment, but he says the state is pointing its fingers in the wrong direction.

"Mr Pflueger, as part of the waiver, can you tell the court how old you are?," said Fifth Circuit Court Judge Randal Valenciano.

"82," said Defendant James Pflueger.

It's the first we've heard from Pflueger in a while through video conference. He's on Oahu, unable to appear in the Kauai courtroom because of bad health. His defense maintains his innocence.

"Mr Pflueger looks forward to disproving the case against him," said Defense Attorney David Minkin.

An estimated 400 million gallons of water burst from Kauai's Ka Loko Dam in 2006. The raging waters ravaged homes, took out a section of Kuhio highway, and killed seven people. As a result, the defense says the state of Hawaii has more than $100 million in civil claims against it.

"Blame one guy that's how you get out of it," said Defense Attorney William McCorriston.

Pflueger's attorneys say the state's claims aren't backed up. Among the

prosecution's charges, that the 82-year-old covered up the dam's spillway before it broke.

"Why would he do that when he spent millions and millions, tens of millions of dollars fixing everything else? It doesn't make sense unless you accept my theory that the case is scape-goating one guy to get out of their own liability," said McCorriston.

With both sides tight-lipped about key evidence, all that's known for sure is that seven lives are lost and another's future will hang in the hands of a jury.

Attorney General Mark Bennett declined an interview but did say that the State's done nothing unethical or improper. He says he will wait to present the facts of the case to the jury and not the press.

Pflueger's trial is set for June 15th.

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