Pacheco trial delayed until March
By TIFFANY EDWARDS/ West Hawaii Today
HILO - Next week's trial for the former Kona police detective accused of killing his wife has been postponed to allow his attorney time to research the connection between anti - depressants and violence.
Albert Pacheco, 47, will stand trial in March for four felony charges related to the shooting death of his wife, Cathalene, in their Waikoloa neighborhood Jan. 4, 2002.
Pacheco allegedly used his service revolver to shoot his wife numerous times in the head and neck through a closed driver's side window, after first using his county - subsidized patrol car to ram the back end of the mini - van she was driving.
Pacheco had been with the Big Island Police Department 11 years, and for nearly three years had been assigned to the Kona Criminal Investigative Section, when the shooting occurred.
Pacheco, who has been incarcerated since the shooting, has twice waived his speedy trial rights, most recently in July when his court - appointed lawyer Stanton Oshiro requested the second delay for the trial then set to begin Sept. 8.
"In addition to the normal difficulty associated with the defense of a murder case, DNA evidence, and additional mental health issues have arisen which require further exploration," Oshiro stated in the motion requesting a continuance.
Pacheco at his arraignment pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency to second - degree murder, use of a firearm to commit a separate felony, terroristic threatening and criminal property damage.
But three court - ordered medical examinations determined, while Pacheco suffered from depression, he was competent to stand trial.
A February mental fitness hearing revealed Pacheco, within a couple of days of his arrest, attempted suicide in a holding cell at the police station in Hilo and had been taking the anti - depressant Zoloft at least since then.
Oshiro stated in his July motion "at the time of the incident (Pacheco) was under the influence of prescription medications which had been prescribed to treat (his) depression."
He did not disclose specifically what had been prescribed to Pacheco but asserted the medication "has been linked to a number of murders, assaults, and other violent offenses."
"The link between this particular medication (and similar medications called Selective Serotonin Re - uptake Inhibitors) is both well documented and controversial and the proper preparation of (Pacheco's) case absolutely requires that this defense be explored," Oshiro wrote.
Noting his review of "the records and files and other discovery in this case," Oshiro asserted to Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura, "there is no question that the defendant's involvement in this incident may very well have been caused by his ingestion of the medications prescribed to him."
Four days after his arrest, Pacheco revealed in an "Application For Release Without Bail," he was taking prescription drugs, but did not specify what he was taking.
He answered "no" to the question, "Do you suffer from schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder?" and he did not answer whether he has "ever been treated for mental health or emotional problems."
An Internet search on the connection between "Zoloft" and "violence" results in more than 1,200 Web site listings.
ClassActionAmerica.com states 200 legal actions have been filed against Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKine, the manufacturers of Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Paxil (paroxetine) "for suicides or homicides - some completed, some only attempted - by patients in the first few days or weeks after they were prescribed one of these drugs."