In trial for control of her fortune, heiress Abigail Kawananakoa takes the stand

Published: Mar. 9, 2020 at 8:01 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2020 at 8:07 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian royalty descendant Abigail Kawananakoa took the witness stand for the first time in the two-a-half year legal battle over her fortune.

“I think we’re here to determine if I’m of right frame of mind to handle my estate,” she said.

During the hearing, she took aim at her former attorney James Wright, who she accused of misappropriating her trust after she suffered a stroke-like attack.

“I am taking Mr. Wright to court for false testimony," she said.

She also accused her former housekeeper Thongbay Smart, who she says abandoned her.

"What she did to me ... I no longer trusted her, " Kawananakoa said.

But during Monday’s hearing, the 93-year-old Kawananakoa sometimes exhibited memory lapses when answering questions from attorneys.

She said she didn’t recall conducting an interview last year with veteran journalist Tanya Joaquin, which was arranged by a public relations firm.

“Why was she interviewing me. I never give interviews," she said.

And, in an apparent effort to jog her memory, her wife Gail Kawananakoa was overheard talking to her while sitting on the witness stand during a break.

During a break, Abigail Kawananakoa is overheard discussing the case with her wife Gail...
During a break, Abigail Kawananakoa is overheard discussing the case with her wife Gail Kawananakoa, who is also a witness in the case. Lawyers say that discussion could be a violation of court rules.(none)

Gail said to her wife the lawyers were attempting to confuse her, and tried to frame her as not of sound mind. She also reassured her she was doing a wonderful job on the stand.

One lawyer said the discussion between witnesses could be a violation of court rules.

“It is absolutely prohibited when somebody is on the witness stand. That person is not supposed to talk to anybody, be coached by anybody, including lawyers," said attorney Eric Seitz.

"The harm is that somebody is telling the witness what to say and how the witness is coming across.”

Kawananakoa’s testimony resumes Tuesday. If she’s found unfit, a conservator could be appointed by the court.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.