Kauai landowner Jimmy Pflueger pleaded not guilty to seven counts of manslaughter Tuesday in the state's case of the Kaloko dam collapse on Kauai.
Pflueger is 82 years old. His doctors consider him too frail to fly to Kauai and face the stress of his arraignment. So, he was allowed to enter his guilty plea via live video from a secret location on Oahu.
Pflueger was driven to a downtown teleconference room on Tuesday morning.
He is accused of being reckless in the way he modified the Kaloko Reservoir, which failed in 2006 after heavy rains. A torrent of water poured from the reservoir, killing seven people downstream.
- Alan Gareth Dingwall
- Daniel Jay Arroyo
- Rowan Grey Makana Fehring-Dingwall
- Aurora Solveig Fehring
- Christina Michelle McNees
- Timothy Wendell Noonan Jr.
- Carl Wayne Rotstein
The landslide and flooding left massive amounts of debris surrounding the Wailapa Stream.
Pflueger owns the Kaloko Reservoir. The state attorney general said Pflueger altered the dam and covered over its spillway, contributing to the deaths of seven people.
In the Kauai courtroom, Pflueger was projected on a video screen.
Pflueger's trial was set for June.
"This man really wants to tell the world his story," defense attorney William McCorriston said.
Even though he said his client is anxious to testify, Pflueger's attorney will spend the next month attacking the indictment in hopes of getting the case thrown out before trial.
McCorriston said the grand jury was not told Pflueger encouraged state inspection of the reservoir and heard no evidence he covered an emergency spillway.
"They don't even have evidence that he was directing the work around the reservoir," McCorriston said.
Attorney General Mark Bennett, who is prosecuting the case, said it would not be proper for him to comment on any aspect of the grand jury or the evidence the case.