Attempted murder case moved to Circuit Court


A Waikoloa man remained hospitalized on Oahu, while the man accused of stabbing him eight times — including once in the throat — appeared in District Court Tuesday for his preliminary hearing.

Judge Melvin Fujino ruled the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office showed probable cause to support the second-degree attempted murder and first-degree burglary charge Joel White, 35, is facing.

Witnesses during the hearing, held at the South Kohala courtroom, said White stabbed Jeremy Nicholas, 20, at the Waikoloa home where Nicholas was renting the master suite. Nicholas’ landlord, Ann Bussey, testified about seeing a part of the fight Thursday night.

Bussey said she was in bed, reading a book, when two men burst into her bedroom, on the other side of the house.

“I saw two people bust through the door,” Bussey said. “Jeremy was in the front. The other, Joel, was behind him, hitting on him.”

Nicholas was trying to get away, Bussey said, and eventually ran out of her room, with White behind him. Bussey said she saw a lot of blood throughout the house as she tried to track Nicholas down. At one point, after Nicholas had left the house, White returned to the home and asked Bussey if he could come in and wash his hands. Bussey said she let him, after he showed her there wasn’t a knife in his hand. She said she did see a square object in his hand.

“After he washed his hands, I told him to sit on the stool and stay there,” Bussey said. “I was going to find Jeremy.”

Detective Vaughn Stevens later testified that he found a Leatherman tool with a 3.5- to 4-inch blade next to the sink.

Stevens said he spoke with Dan Nicholas, the victim’s father, who relayed the son’s account of the attack. Jeremy Nicholas said he was sitting at the computer when White came up behind him and stabbed him in the throat, Dan Nicholas said. Jeremy Nicholas tried to run away, which resulted in the fight that Bussey saw.

One other detail Nicholas recounted to his father, was running out of the house and White grabbing and ripping his shirt. As Nicholas spun around, he could see White grinning at him, Stevens said.

Another woman, who could not be located to be ordered to appear in court Tuesday, told Stevens she was sleeping on Nicholas’ bed the night he was attacked. She told Stevens she woke up to see Nicholas and White fighting, but did not hear them say anything to each other.

Stevens said vice officers executing a search warrant on the home after the attack found a handgun in a nightstand next to Nicholas’ bed that was not registered to him, 1.5 pounds of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

Investigators did not find any evidence of forced entry to the home. Stevens said they believed White entered through a sliding glass door leading to the master suite. Stevens had not interviewed Nicholas as of Tuesday afternoon, because of hospital security precautions.

White’s attorney, Damir Kouliev, argued to have White’s bail reduced.

“His parents, brothers and sisters are all banding together to help,” Kouliev said, explaining that he did not believe White would be a flight risk. “Mr. White isn’t going to jeopardize his family by absconding.”

White has a job — which he could continue to do if allowed supervised release pending his trial — and long-standing family ties to Hawaii Island. Three generations of his family attended Tuesday’s hearing, Kouliev said.

Fujino denied that request and increased White’s bail to $500,000, citing the bail study that indicated White had not had a stable residence for the last six months and had used drugs within the last six months.

Fujino sent the case to the 3rd Circuit Court, where White will have a hearing on Monday.