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Kukuihaele man pleads not guilty to murder

Updated: 
August 16, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO — A 67-year-old Kukuihaele man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the slaying of a 49-year-old Waipio Valley man early last year.

Acting Hilo Circuit Judge Harry Freitas ordered Wayne Teves to appear for trial at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 8, 2018. Teves is charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony for the March 2, 2016, shooting death of Thaine Price, of Waipio Valley.

Teves was indicted Aug. 9 by a Hilo grand jury and arrested without incident Monday afternoon at his Waipio Valley home.

Deputy Prosecutor Haaheo Kahoohalahala told the judge that fellow Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Lee is the lead prosecutor in the case and a jury trial is expected to take about a month. She asked the judge to put substance abuse assessment conditions in the terms of release, should Teves post his $500,000 bail.

“Based on the bail report … it appears that the defendant does have a drug problem,” Kahoohalahala said.

Freitas ordered Teves to undergo substance abuse assessment and any recommended treatment, to turn in any firearms he possesses to police and to not contact witnesses in the case.

Teves, who has no prior felony convictions, answered all questions posed by the judge during the brief arraignment hearing with “yes” or “yes, sir.”

Neither police nor prosecutors have publicly stated a motive for the slaying. According to police, Price’s body was found partially submerged in a stream near the back of the valley. Police said Price died from a gunshot wound to his torso.

Conviction on a second-degree murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole, while use of a firearm in the commission of a felony is a Class A felony carrying a possible 20-year prison term.

Police are asking potential witnesses or anyone with information about the incident to call the department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311 or Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

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

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