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Man pleads not guilty to murder of Kona musician

June 13, 2014 - 11:55pm

A Kawaihae man on Friday pleaded not guilty to murder in the death of a Kona musician last year.

Martin Frank Booth pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for the death of Robert Keawe Lopaka Ryder, 37, of Kailua-Kona before 3rd Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Strance. His trial has been set for October.

Ryder’s body was discovered in South Kohala in March. His family told police they had not heard from him since November 2013.

Following a Big Island grand jury indictment, police arrested Booth, who was in custody on other charges, at the Kona police station Thursday morning. He was subsequently charged with the offense.

Detectives located the human remains March 10 on vacant land between Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Puako Beach Drive. They used dental records to identify Ryder of Kailua-Kona, who had been reported missing Jan. 17.

During an autopsy conducted on March 12, the medical examiner determined that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and that the manner of death was homicide.

At that time, detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section reclassified the case to a murder. During their investigation, they developed evidence linking Booth to the crime.

Booth has been incarcerated at Hawaii Community Correctional Center since February pending trial on an assortment of charges, including meth trafficking and firearm offenses.

While in the custody of the Department of Public Safety, he was transported to the Kona police station Thursday morning on the arrest warrant for the grand jury indictment.

Related stories:

Kawaihae man charged with Kona musician’s murder - Published June 13, 2014

Booth mentally fit for trial - Published May 13, 2014

Bail increased for man facing multiple drug, firearms charges - Published April 8, 2014

Judge revokes Booth’s bail - Published April 22, 2014

Murdered musician found in South Kohala - Published March 14, 2014