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Hawaii Won't Prosecute Alleged Philippines Murderer

by KENNETH C. CROWE II, Albany Times Union

Posted August 2, 2007

Attorney Kurt Mausert will continue his fight to bring the man he believes killed his brother to trial despite the Hawaii attorney general's recent decision not to prosecute the 1979 case. "It definitely felt like someone put a cold knife in my stomach and turned it around," Mausert said Wednesday after receiving the letter from Hawaii Attorney General Mark J. Bennett.

Mausert alleges Juvenal Llaneza killed his brother, Eric Mausert, then 28, with a single knife stab to the heart on a Honolulu street in February 1979. Since then, Kurt Mausert and his other brother, attorney Mark Mausert of Reno, Nev., have worked to bring Llaneza back from the Philippines, where he fled after being indicted on manslaughter charges, Kurt Mausert said.

"After a full and complete review of the matter including personally interviewing a key witness, and personally reviewing the files and records of this case, I have decided that my office will neither attempt to extradite Mr. Llaneza, nor further proceed with the prosecution of this matter," Bennett wrote in his July 20 letter to the Mausert brothers. "My decision was based upon the fact that I do not believe we can prove Mr. Llaneza's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Bennett continued.

Bennett's letter infuriated Kurt Mausert, who looked up to his big brother, a former Schenectady resident who graduated from Bishop Gibbons High School.

Eric Mausert was a Hare Krishna monk working in Honolulu as an indexer of Sanskrit texts for the religious community. Mausert died in the street while doing a favor for a newly married couple, who were members of the Krishna community. He was driving to the airport when they stopped to seek the blessing of the woman's family, according to Kurt Mausert. Llaneza, the bride's brother, followed the couple out of the parents' residents and allegedly killed Mausert.

Kurt Mausert located Llaneza in the Philippines using the Internet several years ago, re-igniting the brothers' quest to bring him to trial. Hawaii prosecutors have the knife, a witness and the body, Mausert said. "I've tried murder cases. I know what it takes to try a murder case. You have a dead body, you put it in front of the jury and let the jury make the call," Mausert said.

Mausert said Bennett's letter came only after he filed a court motion in Hawaii to get the prosecutors to comply with the Hawaiian Crime Victim's Bill of Rights. Llaneza, Mausert maintains, came from a politically connected family. "It confirms my worst fears. We're either dealing with rank corruption or gross incompetence. Why have they refused to communicate with me?" he said.

The Mausert brothers intend to push forward with their motions in the Hawaii Supreme Court to secure prosecution. They also will continue their efforts to get the U.S. attorney's office involved. Kurt Mausert is working with the staff of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York to obtain justice for his deceased brother.

Reposted from Albany (N.Y.) Times Union