HONOLULU (KHON2) — Former Big Island police officer Albert Pacheco, who’s serving time for murdering his wife 20 years ago could get an early release. The murdered woman’s daughter is speaking out saying any reduction of Pacheco’s sentence would be an injustice.
Pacheco pleaded guilty to second degree murder and a firearms violation after shooting his wife Cathalene Pacheco multiple times in Waikoloa. A judge ruled back then that Pacheco should be sentenced consecutively for the two charges for a total of at least 40 years.
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In a challenge to this decision, Pacheco’s attorney recently filed a petition arguing it was improper and the court agreed. So, now the Hawai’i Paroling Authority will have a new hearing on Nov. 16 to determine Pacheco’s minimum sentence.
“Just complete panic and fear, and so I just immediately went into this fight or flight mode. I thought oh my gosh, he’s getting out,” said Shannon Au, Cathalene’s daughter.
Au was just a child and her mother was 42 when it happened. She said the possibility that her stepfather could be released any time soon adds another level of pain for her and her siblings.
Pacheco’s attorney said the judge who initially ruled to have Pacheco serve consecutive sentences made a mistake and the latest ruling has corrected it.
“The court determined that Mr. Pacheco received unfair treatment in part because he was a police officer and in part because of the manner of how the prosecution presented the evidence,” said attorney Myles Breiner.
Breiner said he plans to ask the Hawai’i Paroling Authority for a minimum sentence that’s consistent with other defendants who committed a similar crime.
“Somewhere between 20 to 30 years for initial minimum term, and he’s approaching that. It doesn’t mean tomorrow it’s going to happen,” said Breiner.
Hawai’i County Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen sent a statement saying, “If his request for a reduction is granted, we will continue to vehemently object and argue against his release.”
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Au also plans to testify at the parole hearing.
“What if he gets out of jail? I’m gonna be thinking about this every single day because this could be a reality,” she said.