Legal experts explain what is needed to prove foul play, especially if no body is found

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Proving foul play will be difficult without the remains of Isabella Kalua — also known as Ariel Sellers — but it has been done before in previous cases. Legal experts said crimes occur often without witnesses present and in some cases, a body is never found — this is when other types of evidence come into play as a crucial part of the investigation.

“When it comes to proving a murder case, the authorities have to use what’s called circumstantial evidence, which are things that when you put your common sense and put them all together, it really indicates that the suspects have committed a crime,” said Doug Chin, former Hawaii Attorney General.

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Former Hawaii Island Deputy Prosecutor, Ricky Roy Damerville, was able to build a case against the parents of Peter Boy Kema.

“If a person is killed by strangulation, there may not be blood at the scene, but if it’s a knifing or a shooting or blunt force trauma is applied to a body, there’s going to be blood evidence somewhere,” explained Damervile. “Then you have experts say, based on the quantity of the blood that they’re finding at the scene, they can opine whether or not that person is probably not gonna be found alive.”

Honolulu police said within the last 10 days new evidence turned the case around.

“We had a missing person case — which was not a criminal case at the time. So, we had to build a probable cause to get to that criminal case in order for us to get a search warrant for the premises or any other search warrant,” said Lt. Deena Thoemmes of Honolulu Police Department.

Chin said probable cause is a standard of proof that needs to be approved by a judge.

“That basically just indicates that there is evidence out there to indicate that a crime might have been committed. That certainly doesn’t mean that whatever judge signed off on the search warrant thinks that the suspects are guilty or that they’ve committed a crime, but it does show that there is enough evidence to show that something might have happened,” Chin added.

Once the initial court appearance occurs, the process toward trial will go forward.

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“There has been cases we’ve had with no body and murder arrest and charges. I think we’re heading in a good direction when it comes to trial and conviction,” Lt. Thoemmes stated.

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