A 22-year-old Volcano man accused of breaking into Alii Ice Co. in Hilo pleaded not guilty Thursday to an unrelated strong-arm robbery charge.
Hilo Third Circuit Court Judge Glenn Hara ordered Clinton Ronald Souza to appear for trial at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 15. He’s charged with second-degree or strong-arm robbery, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
According to a court document filed by police, Kathleen Clemens, a 20-year-old Kailua-Kona woman, allegedly saw an acquaintance, Azysalyn Leewai, 19, of Hilo — described as Souza’s girlfriend — in possession of a bag owned by Clemens containing pants and a cellphone. When she tried to get them back, Souza allegedly used closed fists to strike her while Leewai allegedly ripped a necklace with a ring on it off the victim’s neck.
Documents state that Souza struck Clemens seven or eight times in the head, shoulders and chest areas.
Leewai also was charged with robbery. The value of the stolen items was estimated at about $150.
The incident allegedly occurred July 28 on Kamakahonu Street in Hilo.
Hara allowed court-appointed defense attorney Bill Heflin to withdraw from representing Souza because of a conflict of interest. Heflin said his firm, Crudele & De Lima, “has an ongoing relationship with Alii Ice Company” and the judge noted the law firm “may be involved in seeking some kind of adverse determination” involving the ice company seeking restitution from Souza.
Kanani Laubach was appointed to represent Souza in the robbery case. Her law partner, Cody Frenz, represents him in the ice factory burglary case.
Souza was on supervised release when the ice house break-in occurred either late Aug. 12 or early Aug. 13. He missed his original court arraignment Aug. 14 because he was in custody.
Hara set bail for the robbery charge at $10,000. Souza is in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $152,000 bail for the alleged ice facility burglary.
Souza is charged with with burglary during a civil defense emergency, five counts of unauthorized entry to a motor vehicle, two counts of property damage and first-degree theft for the Alii Ice case. The state was under an emergency proclamation declared by Gov. Neil Abercrombie because of Tropical Storm Iselle, so the burglary, theft and property damage charges are enhanced, which carry potential double penalties, a 10-year prison term.
His preliminary hearing on those charges is scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m. in Hilo District Court. Police say Souza confessed to the ice factory break-in.
Souza’s aunt, Ranolin Perreira of Kona, was in the courtroom with several other family members Thursday. She said Souza is the son of her sister, Danolin Souza, who also is incarcerated at HCCC, awating sentencing for violating probation.
Danolin Souza and another sister, Jody Lassen, were sentenced to two years in jail and 10 years probation in 2009. In July 2007, they and cousin Rodney Dean Bohol beat and abducted a then-23-year-old Kurtistown woman, binding her to a tree with duct tape in a remote Waiohinu, Ka‘u, forest, shooting her with birdshot from a sawed-off shotgun and leaving her for dead.
The woman, Raquel Dias-Nicholson, survived and eventually managed to escape.
Lassen and Danolin Souza testified against Bohol, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He remains incarcerated in Arizona with a scheduled release date in 2037.
The women said Bohol was the triggerman. He steadfastly denied it, but said he pleaded no contest to charges to avoid a life sentence.
Court records indicate until last month, Clinton Souza had only a few scrapes with adult authorities, or as Perreira put it, “nothing this crazy.”
“Maybe it’s drugs,” Perreira said when asked if she knew what caused the alleged recent events. “Things are just crazy in Hilo and there’s just so much drugs out there.”
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.