In brief | Big Island & State 9-14-13

Man dies while reportedly picking opihi

A 27-year-old man died Friday afternoon while reportedly picking opihi off the Hamakua Coast.

Responding to the 1:48 p.m. report of a swimmer in distress near a location known as Kawela’s, near mile marker 4.5 on Honokaa Waipio Road, fire rescue personnel located the man floating face down in the water, according to the Hawaii Fire Department.

Fire rescue personnel retrieved the unconscious man using a Billy Pugh net and Chopper 1, according to the department. The man was transported to Hale Hoola Hamakua in Honokaa, where he was pronounced dead.

Kona man facing charges in vehicle break-in

Big Island police have charged a 28-year-old Kona man in connection with the unlawful entry into a motor vehicle on Tuesday in Kailua-Kona.

At approximately 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, Kona Patrol officers responded to a report of a theft from a motor vehicle within a parking lot in downtown Kailua-Kona. The victim, a 37-year-old Holualoa woman, reported she had placed personal belongings on a public storage rack located at the entrance of the Kailua Pier while she went swimming. Upon her return she found several items including her vehicle key and key fob missing. She later found that her vehicle had been entered and property from within it had also been removed, according to the Hawaii Police Department.

During the investigation officers developed information that led to the identity of a man seen in the area where the victim’s property had been removed at the Kailua Pier and also in the parking lot where the victim’s vehicle was entered. On Wednesday, officers located and arrested Travis Ray Maunakea Sanders of Kailua-Kona, on suspicion of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle.

Detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation, which led to a search warrant of a backpack that was in the suspect’s possession at the time of his arrest. During the execution of the search warrant, detectives reportedly located several items of the victim’s stolen property along with illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia.

On Friday, detectives charged Sanders with unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, two counts of theft-third degree, theft of a credit card, unauthorized possession of confidential information, two counts of promoting a dangerous drug-third degree, promoting a detrimental drug-third degree and two counts of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $75,000. Sanders remained at the Kona cellblock pending his initial court appearance on Monday.

EPA sending experts to Hawaii for molasses spill

HONOLULU — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is sending two spill experts to Hawaii to help clean up some 1,400 tons of molasses that spilled into Honolulu Harbor this week.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said Friday he plans to work with the state to make sure federal resources and expertise are used to help respond to the spill.

Schatz says the situation is serious and requires a coordinated, aggressive response to help minimize damage to natural resources, marine life and businesses.

Crews have collected about 2,000 dead fish near the harbor.

The spill was caused by Matson Navigation Co. A senior executive for the shipping company says it hadn’t planned ahead of time for the possibility of a spill.

Agent’s retrial set for June

HONOLULU — A Hawaii judge has set a June retrial for a federal agent accused of murder in a late-night restaurant shooting in Waikiki in 2011.

Hawaii 1st Circuit Judge Karen Ahn set a June 16 date to begin jury selection in a new trial for 29-year-old Christopher Deedy of Arlington, Va. Ahn told lawyers at a hearing Friday that Deedy’s new trial will begin immediately after jurors are chosen.

Deedy is charged with second-degree murder for killing 23-year-old Kollin Elderts of Kailua during an early-morning altercation inside a McDonald’s restaurant.

Jurors ended Deedy’s first trial deadlocked, with eight jurors for acquittal and four jurors for conviction. Ahn declared a mistrial after polling jurors, who said more time wouldn’t resolve the split.

Deedy will have a new lead attorney at the retrial.

By local and wire sources