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In Brief | Big Island & State | 4-2-14

Updated: 
April 2, 2014 - 12:05am

Police charge Captain Cook woman for shooting

A Captain Cook woman was charged late Monday with several crimes following the shooting of a Kona resident, according to the Hawaii Police Department.

Detectives charged Randi-Keli K. Banagan, 22, with second-degree attempted murder, second-degree assault, first-degree terroristic threatening, second-degree reckless endangering, use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, three counts of not having a place to keep a loaded firearm, three counts of having a loaded firearm on a public highway, not having a place to keep ammunition, two counts of illegally transferring possession of firearms, two counts of failing to have a permit to acquire a firearm, two counts of ownership or possession of a firearm when prohibited, third-degree promoting a dangerous drug and having drug paraphernalia.

Her bail was set at $498,000. During her initial court hearing Tuesday morning, she was ordered to appear in 3rd Circuit Court today for an arraignment and plea hearing, police said.

Police charge Honaunau woman with credit card fraud

Detectives have charged a 23-year-old Honaunau woman for several offenses stemming from the fraudulent use of a stolen credit card, according to the Hawaii Police Department.

On Jan. 8, a 37-year-old Kealakekua man reported to police that his wallet had been stolen and several unauthorized transactions were conducted with the victim’s credit card that was in the wallet. Area II Criminal Investigations Section detectives continued the investigation and identified a suspect in the case.

At 7:15 p.m. Monday, detectives arrested and charged Kimi Keani Bento with theft forgery of a credit card, unauthorized possession of confidential personal information, four counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, four counts of forgery, four counts of identity theft, and five counts of theft.

Bail for Bento was set at $14,000. She was held at the Kona cellblock pending her initial court appearance Tuesday, police said.

West Hawaii Today seeking keiki summer programs

West Hawaii Today reporter Carolyn Lucas-Zenk is compiling a list of summer activities and camps for keiki in West Hawaii. The deadline for submissions is May 11. Keep submissions as brief as possible. The newspaper will edit as needed. Photos with captions and credits are welcome.

Email information to clucas-zenk@westhawaiitoday.com or fax it to 329-4860, Attention: Carolyn.

Gabbard appointed to US House Armed Services Committee

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has been appointed to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. She will fill an open seat on the committee and the full House will vote to finalize the appointment later this week, according to the House Democratic Caucus.

The appointment came on a recommendation by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which was tasked with filing the open committee seat.

“As a twice-deployed combat veteran, and captain in the Hawaii Army National Guard, I take very seriously the responsibility to serve on the House Armed Services Committee,” Gabbard said. “This spring, as tough debates take place about the National Defense Authorization in the House, I will continue my work to support our service members and their families, and to bring our troops home quickly and safely from Afghanistan. I look forward to working toward ensuring sound national security policy, and to cut waste and inefficiency within the Defense Department. I will continue my bipartisan efforts to reform our military justice system in order to end the epidemic of military sexual assault.”

Gabbard also said this appointment will ensure Hawaii, which plays a significant role in advancing defense and foreign police in the Asia-Pacific region, will continue to have a voice on this committee.

Hawaii committee: No more tanning beds for teens

HONOLULU — A key Senate committee in the Hawaii Legislature approved House Bill 611 Tuesday that would ban minors from using tanning beds.

Dermatologists urged lawmakers to limit use of the beds, saying that they have been linked to cancer. One Honolulu dermatologist, Kory Kitagawa, said she diagnoses skin cancer every working day, and that she’s seen the development of skin cancer in young people who have extensive exposure to tanning beds.

The Cancer Action Network says melanoma is the most common form of cancer in the country, and the second-most common form among 15- to 29-year-olds.

Opponents say tanning beds are safer than pure sunshine, and that soaking in the sun is more dangerous because it can lead to burns and because you can’t regulate weather.

California, Illinois, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont and Texas have similar bans in place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some other states restrict tanning or require parental permission among younger teens.

The Senate Ways and Means committee approved the bill by a voice vote. The measure’s next stop is the Senate floor.

Critics allege Arizona memorial ticket hoarding

PEARL HARBOR, Oahu — Officials say more tickets to visit the USS Arizona Memorial are being picked up online in bulk orders of 65.

Critics blame tour companies, and they say no tickets are left by the time individual visitors try to reserve them.

Ken DeHoff Jr., the executive director of the Pacific Aviation Museum nearby, said many visitors don’t visit Pearl Harbor when they see tickets are sold out online. He told KHON that museum revenues are down by 20 percent since January.

The National Park Service issues 4,500 tickets each day to visit the memorial to sailors and Marines killed in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack. It distributes half of them online and half in person.

The tickets are free. People may either pick them up in person at the visitor’s center in Pearl Harbor or reserve them online for a $1.50 processing fee.

Online, people may reserve up to 65 tickets at a time up to six months in advance. There’s no limit to the number of times a person can reserve them.

Ticket companies are to blame for the ticket hoarding, noting the $1.50 per-ticket fee, DeHoff said.

“There are very few individuals who are going to buy 65 tickets for every 15- or 30-minute tour all day long,” he said.

The companies are able to include the tickets as part of package tours offering transportation and stops at other historic sites, he said. Packages can cost anywhere from $90 to $130.

Paul DePrey, superintendent of the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, said he’s noticed a lot more tickets are being reserved 65 at a time. The park service is working to improve the system, he said.

People should know that more tickets are available if they go directly to the box office, especially in the afternoon, DePrey said.

Court says Hawaii not required to pay for migrant care

HONOLULU — Hawaii isn’t required to fund Medicaid for migrants from three Pacific Island nations in Micronesia to make up for a reduction in federal funding, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a ruling filed Tuesday that Hawaii has no constitutional obligation to fill a gap left in 1996 when Congress cut health care funding for migrants under the Compact of Free Association.

The cuts have been a source of tension between the state and territorial governments and the U.S. federal government over who should pay for services to the migrants.

The compact gives Palau, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia citizens the right to live and work in the U.S. In exchange, the U.S. military controls extensive strategic land and water in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and China — including the Kwajalein Atoll, a site of missile testing and space activities.

The opinion vacated a preliminary injunction from a lower federal court in Hawaii that stopped state health officials from reducing coverage for migrants by moving them to a more limited health system. The new system limited doctors’ visits, hospital stays and prescription drugs, while leaving migrants ineligible for organ and tissue transplants or the state’s long-term care insurance plans, according to the Tuesday ruling.

Officials with the Hawaii health and human services departments and attorney general’s office said in a joint statement that the state would review and analyze the decision and its programs to determine how best to proceed.

An attorney representing the migrants who brought forth the original lawsuit did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Ex-soldier testifies in murder trial

HONOLULU — A former Hawaii-based solider accused of killing his 5-year-old daughter started to cry from the witness stand and reached for tissues when his defense attorney asked him if he was ready to talk about what happened.

But Naeem Williams didn’t yet say much about what led to the girl’s beating death in 2005. He started testifying Tuesday in his capital murder trial. He’s being tried in federal court, which allows for him to face the death penalty even though Hawaii doesn’t have capital punishment.

Williams said he sought custody of his daughter Talia out of a sense of obligation after his grandmother grew too ill to continue caring for her in South Carolina. He said that before he got custody of Talia, he had never fed a child or spent any significant time alone with a child.

His mother “made it sound like it was my responsibility to take care of Talia,” he said.

When asked if he was prepared for the responsibility of raising a child, he responded, “at the time, I thought I was ready.”

Prosecutors say Talia suffered months of abuse at the hands of her father and stepmother during the seven months the child lived with them. But they say that it was Williams who dealt a fatal blow so hard that it left knuckle impressions on the child’s chest.

Williams said that when Talia came to live with him and his wife, Delilah Williams, in Hawaii, the couple’s relationship was growing rocky. He said the couple fought about issues including money, his drinking and his infidelity.

His testimony is expected to resume Wednesday.

By local and wire sources