Keaau man charged with attempted murder


A 58-year-old Keaau man charged with attempted murder may have been attempting to commit suicide by cop, a prosecutor says.

Joseph Feliciano made his initial appearance in Hilo District Court on Monday afternoon. He’s charged with attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, first-degree attempted assault of a police officer, first-degree assault, domestic abuse and resisting arrest.

All but two of those charges stem from a report of a disturbance on Dec. 19 at Feliciano’s Aulii Street home in Orchidland Estates subdivision. The first-degree assault and domestic abuse charges are from a domestic disturbance the prior day.

Feliciano appeared in custody with a black eye that court documents filed by police say he received in the Dec. 18 domestic incident. Police said during that disturbance, Feliciano grabbed 48-year-old Barbara Mateo, his live-in girlfriend of 24 years, and threw her to the ground, causing pain to her neck and left arm and bruising to the arm.

Feliciano allegedly also struck Mateo in the face with a closed right fist, knocking out two of her teeth. Mateo refused medical treatment, according to police.

Deputy Public Defender Zachary Wingert requested either supervised release or a substantial bail reduction for Feliciano.

“Right now, bail is set at $558,000. … I believe bail in this amount is — there’d might as well be no bail,” he said.

Deputy Prosecutor Roland Kaholo Talon described Feliciano as “not appropriate for release or bail reduction.”

“Mr. Feliciano has an extensive (criminal) history dating back to 1985,” Talon said. “He is alleged to have caused serious injury to a family or household member, and alleged to have attempted to cause serious injury to law enforcement officers.”

“At a bail hearing,” said Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville, “we would show that he was, according to his son, ‘in a mental state of trying to induce suicide by cop,’ and so he’s a threat to himself and he’s a threat to others.”

Court documents state that on Dec. 19, Puna Patrol officers Brian Markham and Kelsey Kobayashi responded to a report of a dispute at Feliciano’s home. When they arrived and informed him he was being arrested, Feliciano allegedly brandished two machetes and threatened to kill them.

Documents state that officers told Feliciano to drop the weapons and he didn’t comply. Feliciano threw one of the machetes at Markham from a distance of about 7 or 8 feet. The machete would have hit Markham in the head had he not ducked, according to documents.

Judge Harry Freitas said he would like to maintain bail but that he had probable cause documents — also known as Riverside affidavits — on only two of the charges. Both Talon and Damerville said those documents were the only ones they were provided prior to the court appearance.

Freitas replied that those two charges, attempted first-degree assault of a police officer and domestic abuse, were the only ones he could confirm bail on. He then raised the bail on those charges from $12,000 to $25,000 and set a preliminary hearing on all charges for 2 p.m. Thursday.

Damerville said afterward that the previously missing documents had been found, that all charges are still in effect, and a bail hearing has been scheduled for 2 p.m. today in Hilo District Court.

Feliciano remained in Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of bail late Thursday afternoon.

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