Experts outline challenges prosecutors could face in murder case against adoptive parents

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Updated: Nov. 11, 2021 at 6:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police believe that Isabella “Ariel” Kalua was killed in her Waimanalo home and that her body was disposed of before she was reported missing, sources said.

And experts said this theory implies the HPD has more evidence than they have publicly disclosed.

The experts said it’s the type of evidence that they would have had to present to a judge to obtain the search and arrest warrants to raid Isaac and Lehua Kaluas’ Waimanalo home on Wednesday.

“It ... kind of indicates that the police has some set of either physical or eye witness evidence,” said retired Judge and former Prosecutor Randal Lee.

Lee said he was also struck by HPD’s certainty that the girl was murdered a month before anyone knew she was gone.

“It’s a rather bold statement to say the child was killed 30 days before she was reported missing. You need some evidence to at least get that timeline,” Lee said.

Police didn’t say what their new evidence was ― although they said they were sure the Kaluas were lying and the FBI played a major role.

“In the last week to 10 days, some evidence has come to light again with the significant help of the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit,” HPD Maj. Ben Moszkowicz said on Wednesday.

“They gave us an insight into this case I don’t think we would be able to come up with on our own.”

Lee said the major challenge in winning a conviction is that Isabella’s body has not been found.

“Assuming they do not have a body, it makes it a little more difficult because you need to prove the cause of death. You also need to prove the manner of death,” he said.

But Lee says over the years, prosecutors have gotten convictions without that.

Oftentimes, he said, witness testimony, other physical evidence, combined with strong circumstantial evidence, helped convinced jurors to convict.

Police will likely provide more details on their investigation on Friday.

That’s when the Kaluas are scheduled to face a judge for the first time and police will disclose the probable cause for their arrest.

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