Honolulu man on trial following deadly house fire

Published On: Apr 08 2014 06:20:00 PM HST

Two distinctly different stories will emerge in court now that the murder trial for James Kimo Moses is underway.

Click here to see Cam Tran's report.

One presents him as a revenge-fueled fire-starter, the other as a scapegoat for a deadly fire.

Moses is accused of starting the deadly fire out of spite when he was evicted from a home in Liliha.

Charred and wet remnants marked the scene of the fire on Liliha Street during the early morning hours of Feb. 2, 2011.

"It was a big fire. There was lots of smoke coming out of the building," said Honolulu Police Officer Branson Etse.

First responders described the fire that killed  76-year-old Clarence Isobe and left more than 20 people homeless.

Prosecutors said Moses set the fire on purpose. They said he was  evicted just two months before, providing the motive for the crime.

"The defendant had the motive, he had a reason. That reason was vindictiveness. He was upset with the people of the boarding house," said deputy prosecutor Darrell Wong.

Investigators said witnesses saw Moses at the scene of the fire. His girlfriend at the time told police Moses confessed to her about the crime.

"The next day, he tells Marissa he burned the house down," Wong said.

Moses's defense attorney maintains there's no concrete evidence pinning his client to the crime.

"(There is) no credible evidence that he made any threats or had any vendetta or any specific reason to harm anyone in that house," said defense attorney Craig Nagamine.

Nagamine also disputed reports that his client was at the crime scene at the time of the fire and said police were looking to pin the crime on someone.

"There were people who say they were with Kimo at the time," Nagamine said. "He may be bummed out about moving out but he wasn't angry with anyone or anything like that."

Moses is charged with murder, several counts of attempted murder and arson. If convicted, he could face life in prison with the possibility of parole.


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