Richard Tamatoa Maru
NZ Herald story 28th September 2000
The murder trial of a man accused of "crushing the life out of his girlfriend" ended suddenly when he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the High Court at Whangarei. Richard Tamatoa Maru, aged 25, had earlier denied murdering Roimata Esther Wehi, 20, on or about July 4 last year in their Whangarei home. The jury had heard two days of evidence when the surprise plea came, just after 3 pm on Tuesday. Before Justice Potter and the jury, Maru pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter arising from an assault on Ms Wehi.
Crown Solicitor Philip Smith asked Justice Potter to discharge the murder count. No one was able to say with certainty what was the cause of Ms Wehi's death, other than that it resulted from an assault by Maru, he said. Because of that uncertainty and the element of murderous intent, the police accepted the manslaughter plea. Defence counsel John Watson agreed, saying the defence had intended to call evidence that Ms Wehi had a heart condition and had been sniffing solvents - containing a cardiac irritant, Toluene - on the evening she died. Justice Potter convicted Maru of manslaughter and remanded him in custody for sentence in the High Court at Auckland on November 10.
Date of Birth
Killed his girlfriend in their Wangarei home in July 1999
86 previous convictions including assaults on a child, a female, and a police officer
Three Strikes Status
Sentenced to five years in November 2000
Will have since been paroled
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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