Before she became the co-defendant in one of Hawaii’s highest profile murder cases in recent memory, Hailey Dandurand was pursuing a liberal arts degree at Kapiolani Community College after relocating to Oahu in early 2017 from her native Oregon.
In August 2017, she met and started dating 23-year-old Stephen Brown. The relationship soon turned abusive, according to court documents.
Dandurand has said that she suffered repeated attacks by her former boyfriend in the three months leading up to the gruesome and apparently random killing of a 51-year-old Sunset Elementary School substitute teacher — a crime for which they have both been charged.
The bludgeoned body of school teacher Telma Boinville was discovered on Dec. 7, 2017, in a pool of blood by a pair of Australian tourists inside a North Shore vacation rental home that she had been hired to clean. A bloody hammer, knife and mallet were discovered near the body.
In another room of the Pupukea beach house, the victim’s 8-year-old daughter was found with her hands and feet bound and her mouth sealed with duct tape.
With no obvious motive, the slaying sent the tight-knit North Shore community into shock.
Brown and Dandurand, who fled the scene in Boinville’s gold Toyota Tacoma, were charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery and other charges in connection with the killing of Boinville.
Now, with trial set to begin Aug. 9, the state has agreed not to oppose defense efforts to have the two tried separately.
Dandurand’s defense attorney Barry Sooalo says Dandurand was under the influence of Brown’s abuse at the time of Boinville’s death and did not willingly participate in the alleged murder and kidnapping.
However, he acknowledged that she was guilty of a charge stemming from her possession of a debit card that police said belonged to Boinville and was found in Dandurand’s shirt pocket at the time of her arrest.
The prosecuting attorney says Dandurand also was wearing Boinville’s earrings and Boinville’s daughter’s backpack when police apprehended her and Brown in a Mililani parking lot just hours after the alleged murder.
“I think the physical evidence in this case suggests that the injuries which ultimately caused Ms. Boinville to become deceased, those injuries were obviously caused by a large, powerful male as opposed to a small, diminutive woman like Hailey,” Sooalo told Civil Beat last week. “At least with the most heinous aspects of this case, those (crimes) are attributed to Mr. Brown.”
Last June, a judge granted Dandurand a restraining order that bars Brown from coming within 100 yards of her for the next decade.
Nelson Goo, Brown’s defense attorney, declined to comment on the murder case.
“All I can say is we’ll see what evidence comes out at trial, we’ll see what comes out under oath,” he said Friday in a telephone interview.
However, he cast doubt on the abuse claims, noting that Dandurand did not seek a restraining order against Brown until more than two years after the abuse and the arrests allegedly occurred. Further, Goo said his client did not have the opportunity to contest the abuse claims.
“It’s very specious,” Goo said. “They have been kept separate at (Oahu Community Correctional Center) for three years anyway. So you draw your conclusion. Do you swallow everything an attorney says, especially when they’re trying to make a case for their client in the media?”
Sooalo described Brown as controlling and manipulative toward Dandurand, with a criminal record that indicates he has “issues with women.” At the time of his arrest, Brown had three unresolved criminal cases pending, two for domestic violence and one for public drinking.
When the former couple was being detained, Brown told police, “Just shoot me, I deserve this,” according to court documents.
Police said Dandurand spontaneously uttered similar sentiments.
“Can you just pull your gun out and shoot me in the head?” she said. “My life is over after today.”
Last week Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Dowd filed a motion to withdraw the state’s original opposition to pleas from both defense teams for separate trials, making a joint trial less likely. The issue is set to be discussed at a hearing on Friday.
“We’ve charged what we’ve charged and we intend to proceed with prosecution with both of them, maybe not at the same time,” Dowd told Civil Beat.
He declined to comment further on pending litigation.
Both defendants also are seeking separate trials.
Dandurand wants to isolate herself from Brown, whom the media described as “a crazed green-haired man with no remorse,” court documents say.
Brown’s defense attorney said his client fears Dandurand’s characterization of him and the abuse claims could unfairly taint the jury’s opinion of him.
Ken Lawson, who teaches criminal law at the University of Hawaii, said it would be unusual for Dandurand and Brown to be tried together given the restraining order.
In general, defendants also often seek separate trials after deciding to become cooperating witnesses for the prosecution.
“From my experience trying a lot of these cases, from the outside looking in, it looks like one party has decided to cooperate or at least is willing to testify against the other party,” Lawson said. “I want to be clear that I’m just guessing, but this happens all the time.”
Beyond the abuse claims, Sooalo argues that the strength of the prosecution’s case against Dandurand has been undermined by the fact that the victim’s 8-year-old daughter — the crime’s only witness — testified to a grand jury that she did not see Dandurand during the time when the crimes took place.
The girl was able to pick out Brown’s photo from the photo array she was shown by a detective, but she could not identify Dandurand’s photo, according to court documents.
After the alleged murder, however, Boinville’s daughter told a grand jury that Brown told her something to the effect of “we killed your mom,” a statement that presumably refers to both co-defendants. The prosecuting attorney said in a court filing that he plans to use this statement as evidence.
Sooalo also notes that Dandurand passed two polygraph tests in which he said she asserted that she did not participate in the killing of Boinville or the kidnapping of her daughter.
“Sometimes the government goes after the wrong person and I think this is one of these instances where they’ve gone after the wrong person,” Sooalo said.
Kevin Emery, the victim’s husband, declined to comment for this story. Dandurand’s parents, who relocated to Oahu from Oregon in 2018 to support their daughter, also declined to speak to a reporter through their daughter’s lawyer.
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