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Clyde Arakawa's Manslaughter Trial Begins Tuesday

Published: Jan. 28, 2002 at 10:45 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 12, 2011 at 6:35 PM HST
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The search for justice in the Clyde Arakawa manslaughter trial begins on Tuesday. The former police officer is accused of being drunk when his car slammed into a vehicle driven by Dana Ambrose. She was killed on Pali Highway, more than a year ago. After numerous delays the case is finally going to trial.

A collision on the Pali Highway in October of 2000, sent one woman to the grave and one man to court. On the eve of this much anticipated trial, we outline the Arakawa case and get some legal insight on how things will likely play out in court.

Nine women and three men will fill the jury box to determine what if any criminal responsibility Clyde Arakawa had for Dana Ambrose's death. Their cars collided at the intersection of Pali Highway and School Street.

In an unusual move, the jury will be taken to the accident scene on Tuesday night. Both city prosecutor Peter Carlisle and Arakawa's attorney, Michael Ostendorp declined to discuss the case, so we talked to legal experts around town.

David Minkin spent 15 years as a deputy prosecutor before moving to private practice. He says he's aware of just six site visits in the past 20 years.

"It's to let the jury see that crime scene so when they hear all the other information about the allegations, so they can process that information along with their own personal perceptions of the crime scene," says Minkin.

The state has 104 names on its witnesses list. It's accident reconstruction experts will testify Arakawa was speeding and ran a red light when he slammed into Ambrose. Medical experts are expected to testify Arakawa's blood alcohol level of .06, seven hours after the accident, means at the time of the collision his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

The defense will call their own experts, including a vehicle operations specialist. Court documents show in a test last April, Arakawa consumed seven beers in a 6-hour time period, similar to what he said he drank the night of the accident. Afterwards his blood alcohol content was measured at .049.

Arakawa then passed a driving test on a race track. The conclusion was: "Clyde Arakawa was not impaired or driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage at the time he was involved in the traffic collision on October 7, 2000."

Attorney William Harrison says, "The case really is in affect a battle of the experts."

Bill Harrison is familiar with Arakawa, he sued the former officer twice for police brutality in the 80s.

"Expert testimony is very weighty evidence for a jury. So depending upon if a jury believes it's expert it could have a significant affect on the outcome of the case," says Harrison.

Arakawa argues that he had the green and it was Ambrose that darted out in front of his car.  This trial is expected to last two weeks.