Dana Ireland: Unraveling the Mystery

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Episode 23: Who Killed Dana Ireland?’ by The Other Side of Paradise

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Albert Ian Schweitzer was exonerated for a 1991 crime, endured prison, and is now adjusting to life as a free person with strong support.

Key Insights

  • In January 2023, Albert Ian Schweitzer was exonerated for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Dana Ireland in 1991.
  • Schweitzer had spent over two decades in prison for a crime he did not commit.
  • Schweitzer attributes his resilience to his faith, his parents, and his supportive legal team.
  • Adjusting to life as a free person has been challenging for Schweitzer, and he feels anxious most days.
  • He is grateful to be able to make his own choices now, such as when and what to eat.
  • Being in prison deepened Schweitzer's faith and trust in God.
  • Despite difficulties, Schweitzer never lost hope and always had a strong team fighting for his innocence.
  • The media played a role in manipulating public perception of Schweitzer, but advances in DNA testing helped in his exoneration.
  • Schweitzer's legal team, made up of attorneys and experts from Innocence Projects, represented him for free and supported him upon his release.
  • Schweitzer was well-treated by fellow inmates who believed in his innocence.
  • He is now focused on starting his life over, prioritizing taking care of his parents.
  • Schweitzer's legal team is working on getting him compensated under a law that allows exonerees to receive compensation for each year spent in prison.
  • Adjusting to life outside prison has been challenging, as he needs to catch up on technology and relearn basic skills.
  • Efforts are ongoing to identify the real killer, known as unknown male number one, through DNA profiling and genealogy testing.
  • Schweitzer's brother is seeking to have his own plea deal thrown out, and efforts are underway to vacate Frank Pauline's conviction posthumously.
  • For more information on the case, a 30-minute special report titled "Who Killed Dana Ireland" is available on the website hawaiinewsnow.com.

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Aloha, I’m Lynn Kawano with another episode of the Other Side of Paradise.

January 2023, one of Hawaii’s most notorious murder cases was upended when Albert Ian Schweitzer was exonerated for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Dana Ireland in 1991.

“We the jury in this case find the defendant guilty of the offense of murder in the second degree.” Schweitzer had spent more than two decades behind bars for the horrific crime that he did not commit. Schweitzer was released immediately after Circuit Court Judge Peter Kubota vacated the conviction.

Schweitzer sat down with me to talk about the transition from prisoner to free person and the pain of missing so much time. “I think what kept me going a lot was my Lord and Savior, you know, number one, my parents, and the fact that I was blessed with such an amazing team.”

“You knew they were fighting for you outside?” “Yes. Just back to being thankful, you know, just being out free, just, just, there’s so much involved, you know, in fighting this system.”

Schweitzer says he feels anxious most days. He cleans and does chores around the family home to calm down, and he is working to get into a daily routine. “I’ve been told what to do, you know, just in so many years and, you know, it ain’t easy.”

“When you get up in the morning, right, you can eat what you want?” “I can eat when I want or what I want, you know, or I don’t have to eat.”

He says he was always a church-going person, but being in prison took his faith to a new level. “It definitely got me rooted deeper, you know, and trusting and believing, believing in him. And when you’re in rock bottom in a prison cell, you know, I think it was an easy choice for me to come to, where just surrendering everything to God and putting it in His hands, where believing that this battle wasn’t mine. You know, it was His battle. And it worked out, it worked out pretty good, you know, so far.”

“Was there a point where you lost hope?” “You know, not really. You know, I just kept my spirits up and, you know, I always had a good team behind me, and the team just got stronger and stronger, and just people believing in me and, and, you know, so the hope was always there, you know. Did I have bad days? Absolutely, you know, absolutely.”

“Your mom said that you viewed Dana Ireland as somewhat this angel who was going to someday make it right. Would you say that that’s true, or was that something she had hoped?” “You know, never seen her, never knew her. God bless her, you know, and the reason why I say that, that I’m sure she’s in heaven, you know, and I’m thinking she’s looking down and seeing this, this, this is not the right guy in prison, you know. I’m sure of that because I know I’m innocent.”

Schweitzer was convicted in 2000, nine years after Dana Ireland was brutally attacked on the Big Island. She had been visiting family. She was riding her bike in Kapoho in the afternoon of Christmas Eve when she was struck by a vehicle. Her attacker drove her five miles to a fishing trail where she was raped and died hours later at the hospital from blood loss. She was mauled by a pack of animals. This wasn’t a single perpetrator who attacked her, raped her, or beat her. Those photos are some of the most telling evidence that you have in this case.

Schweitzer and his brother, Sean Schweitzer, were both convicted along with Frank Pauline, even though DNA from Dana Ireland’s rape kit, clothes, and other evidence found at the scene excluded all three men. Some people say he’s innocent, great for him. Other people say, oh, he must have had something to do with it. For people, they can’t switch, right, do that switch and say, oh, he’s innocent. They think he had to have something to do with it, or he had to have known who did it, or he got off on a technicality. What do you want those people to understand?

“I think that people were manipulated by the media on what was given to them by the prosecutors and portraying me to be that monster, or trying to really sell their theory. You know, it’s just 2023 now, you know, DNA’s real, you know, and I thank God. I’ll probably thank God every day for the rest of my life for DNA.”

While advances in DNA testing were a huge part of the exoneration, his legal team was made up of high-powered attorneys and experts from the New York and Hawaii Innocence Projects.

“My team was awesome, you know, Ken Lawson, Jennifer Brown, Barry Sheck, Susan Friedman, the list is on, all the students and, you know, just fighting for me, you know, fighting for my innocence. It made it easier.” The team represented him for free. They bought him clothes and shoes when he was released and fed him because he had no money.

Schweitzer was a nurse at the Samuel Mahalona Memorial Hospital on Kaua’i in the 90s. He would be close to retirement now if he hadn’t been convicted.

“How were you treated in prison?” “I was treated alright. I was treated alright. Most, you know, a lot of the population knew I was innocent.”

“How?” “Common sense. You know, common sense. It’s amazing how, you know, you think these inmates or convicts or whatever you want to call them, you know, they’re human beings also. I’m just thankful that I can start all over and enjoy the rest of my life, you know, take care of my parents. You know, number one priority, take care of my parents. One day at a time, yeah? Just like doing time in a prison cell. One day at a time. Just day, and just keep pushing through. It’s a total different way of doing time compared to someone who did something. You know, because if that person was having a bad day, he can look back and say, ‘Yeah, I screwed up. I made a mistake.’ Because for me, I never had that opportunity. If I did have a bad day, I couldn’t say, ‘Yeah, but I, you know, I just have to, total different doing time.'”

His legal team is working to get him compensated under a law that passed in 2015 that allows exonerees to collect $50,000 per year spent in prison. But it’s not an easy process to navigate. In the meantime, he’s trying to adjust to life as a free man and catch up to the technology. “Everything’s changed. I don’t even know how to use a phone. I got to get a driver’s license, I got to literally start all over.”

His brother, Sean Schweitzer’s attorney, has filed a petition with the court to have his plea deal thrown out. Frank Pauline died in prison in 2015. His attorney is working to get his conviction vacated posthumously. The real killer, called unknown male number one, has not been identified. The DNA profile was uploaded to the national database, but there have been no hits. Other efforts, including genealogy testing, are being done to try and identify the person.

For more on the case, including video from the trials 23 years ago, watch my 30-minute special report, Who Killed Dana Ireland, on our website hawaiinewsnow.com. That’s another edition of the Other Side of Paradise. I’m Lynn Kawano. Mahalo for listening.

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Episode 23: Who Killed Dana Ireland?’ by The Other Side of Paradise