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Two charges dropped against alleged police shooter

April 15, 2014 - 9:31am

Prosecutors have dropped two of the charges against a 32-year-old Hilo man on trial for allegedly shooting two police officers early last year.

Deputy Prosecutor Darien Nagata on Monday told jurors that two counts of first-degree assault against Keaka Martin were being dropped. The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning that the state is free to re-file them.

Martin still faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder for the nonfatal shootings of Hilo patrol officers Garrett Hatada and Joshua Gouveia on the evening of Jan. 2, 2013, in the parking lot of the Pono Place on Kilauea Avenue, the site of the former Green Onion cocktail lounge. He is also charged with second-degree reckless endangering and six firearms charges.

If convicted of attempted first-degree murder, Martin faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Martin’s court-appointed attorney, Steve Strauss, rested the defense’s case on Monday without putting Martin on the stand. His final witness was Officer Anson Caceres, who interviewed Hatada while he was hospitalized.

Closing arguments and jury instructions are expected today in Hilo Circuit Court before deliberations begin.

Both Hatada and Gouveia, who suffered gunshot wounds to their lower extremities, have returned to duty and testified in the trial, which started in early February. Both described the terror of being shot from beneath a modified black van in the the parking lot. Neither was able to get a good view of the shooter, nor could they identify Martin.

A manhunt was mounted after the shooting, and Martin was taken into custody the next day at his sister’s East Palai Street home.

As officers surrounded the house, Martin reportedly shot himself in the chest with a 9-millimeter pistol and was hospitalized in critical condition, but survived.

Martin remains in custody without bail at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

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