The Hawaii Circuit Court of the Third Circuit Tuesday exonerated Albert “Ian” Schweitzer’s 2000 conviction for the 1991 second-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault in the first degree of Dana Ireland after newly discovered evidence. Modern DNA testing showed that DNA found on a bloody t-shirt primarily used to convict Schweitzer belonged to an unknown male.
In 2019, Schweitzer’s counsel and Hawaii prosecutors agreed to re-investigate the case. In the stipulated facts presented to the court, the parties agreed that modern forensic DNA testing excluded Schweitzer as the source of the DNA on the t-shirt. Additionally, the stipulated facts stated that the prosecution used false jailhouse informant testimony to build its case, which led to Schweitzer’s wrongful conviction.
Lastly, the stipulation states that jailhouse informant Michael Ortiz testified that Schweitzer confessed to him that he was involved in Ireland’s murder. These statements lead to Schweizer’s indictment and later conviction, and Ortiz’s sentence was reduced after cooperating with law enforcement in the case.
The Innocence Project assisted in representing Schweitzer. In response to the dismissal, one of Schweitzer’s Innocence Project attorneys Susan Friedman stated:
After 25 years of incarceration for a crime Mr. Schweitzer did not commit, he is eager to have his name cleared and return home to his family. From the beginning, the DNA in this case provided powerful evidence that these three men are innocent. Yet, the state built its case on false informant testimony and misapplied forensic evidence. We are grateful to the Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney for their collaboration during this re-investigation. The new scientific evidence is clear — Mr. Schweitzer did not commit this crime.