HONOLULU (KHON2) — Another chapter has closed in the murder of Dana Ireland. Shawn Schweitzer, who made a plea deal and confessed to the crime more than 20 years ago, now has that conviction set aside by a judge.
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Shawn’s brother Albert Ian Schweitzer had his conviction overturned in January for the murder and rape of Dana Ireland. With help from the Innocence Project, new DNA evidence was presented that did not belong to Albert, Shawn, or Frank Pauline Jr., who was murdered in prison while serving time for Ireland’s murder.
At a hearing on Monday, a judge agreed to let Shawn withdraw his guilty plea, set aside his conviction, and dismiss the case. Shawn said he’s still in disbelief.
“Yeah, it’s sinking in but it’s finally happened. It was a long road that’s for sure long wait,” he said.
Ireland was attacked on Christmas Eve, 1991, while riding her bicycle in a rural area on the Big Island. Shawn, who was 16 years old at the time, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and his sentence was reduced to time already served.
Shawn filed a motion in April to have his conviction overturned and his attorney said it was granted for the same reason his brother was also acquitted.
“A lot of it has to do with a new evidence that had been discovered, as well as newly presented evidence, which the court found would likely, at the current time, would result in an acquittal if the jury heard the case,” said attorney Keith Shigetomi.
“It’s still an ongoing thing and hopefully someday, somebody will be able to help and find her actual killer,” said Shawn.
He’s hopeful that the real killer will eventually be found. Big Island police told KHON2 that the case remains an active investigation, and they said they are confident that the killer will be identified.
“We are still having evidence tested and ultimately we do want to identify the contributor of the unknown DNA sample,” said Capt. Rio Amon-Wilkins of the Hawaii Police Department.
As for Shawn, he said he’s also spending a lot of time with his brother, who’s still adjusting to life out of prison.