Michael Dahilig, 35, entered a Honolulu district courtroom in a blue jumpsuit. His hands were cuffed. Out of the camera's view, his feet were bare and his legs were shackled.
He faces multiple charges, including manslaughter, first-degree arson and burglary.
Prosecutors believe he set a fire that killed 97-year-old Betty Hagihara in her Pearl City home on March 30. Two other people, including Hagihara's son, escaped the fire unharmed. The house was destroyed.
Prosecutors have not disclosed what evidence they have to back up the manslaughter and arson charges.
In court documents, the police officer who arrested Dahilig said a neighbor of the woman who died saw a man matching Dahilig's description "walk into the fire damaged structure with a backpack" the day after the fatal blaze.
The witness warned the intruder that police were coming, and the man responded saying "he was looking for something," then ran and fled the scene in a car. Police traced the license plate number to Dahilig.
The documents also said once CrimeStoppers released video of an earlier burglary down the street, several tips identified Dahilig in the footage. Callers described recognizing the prison gang tattoo on the video as being the same tattoo Dahilig has on his back.
Dahilig also faces drug charges and additional burglary charges.
His preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday. Dahilig is in custody, unable to post his $1 million bail.