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Double murder defendant Sean Matsumoto calls court proceedings “corrupted”


A defendant in a Hilo double homicide reiterated his desire for a new lawyer Monday and told the judge he wants a change of venue, saying his slain girlfriend is related to Hawaii County’s mayor.

“My girlfriend’s cousins with the mayor, Billy Kenoi. This is all corrupted,” said 35-year-old Sean Ivan Masa Matsumoto, who’s accused of the Feb. 11, 2013, shotgun slayings of his girlfriend, 45-year-old Rhonda Lynn Alohalani Ahu and her 74-year-old mother, Elaine Marie Ahu, in their Waiakea Houselots home.

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura scheduled trial for 9 a.m. Dec. 1. Matsumoto, who’s being held without bail at Hawaii Community Correctional Center, is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, three other firearms charges, and reckless endangering.

“I want a new lawyer,” Matsumoto again told Nakamura. The judge denied Matsumoto’s motion to replace Deputy Public Defender Jeff Ng with another attorney last week. The judge replied to Matsumoto’s request, but the courtroom’s audio system was not working, and Nakamura’s response couldn’t be understood from the courtroom gallery.

“He was telling me that he wanted to withdraw from the case,” Matsumoto said, referring to Ng. On July 16, Matsumoto told the judge Ng “thinks I’m guilty” and said he couldn’t be properly represented by a lawyer who thinks he’s guilty. He asked Nakamura to appoint a private attorney to represent him.

Nakamura then told Matsumoto he hadn’t shown good cause to replace Ng and that indigent criminal defendants, whose attorneys are provided by taxpayers, cannot under Hawaii case law have their lawyer replaced without good cause.

According to court documents filed by police, Matsumoto called 911 the night of the shooting “to report that he had just shot two people in his residence.” The documents state that Matsumoto was still on his cellphone with police dispatchers when officers arrived at the Leilani Street home.

Officers found a loaded 12-gauge shotgun on the living room sofa, about seven feet away from one of the victims, documents state.

Two children were in the house when the shootings occurred, police said. Both were physically unharmed. One was Matsumoto and Rhonda Ahu’s son, then 6. The other was Rhonda Ahu’s teenage daughter from a previous relationship.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.