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In Brief | Big Island & State | Oct. 24, 2013

Man indicted in assault of police officers

A 20-year-old Kailua-Kona man has been indicted in connection with allegedly assaulting two police officers Sept. 18 at a Kona residence.

Garrick Scott Simmons was indicted Oct. 15 on two counts of first-degree assault of a law enforcement officer, first-degree terroristic threatening against a public servant, resisting arrest, first-degree terroristic threatening with the use of a dangerous instrument, first-degree burglary, kidnapping, first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, third-degree assault and fourth-degree theft, according to 3rd Circuit Court records.

A bench warrant has been issued for his arrest, according to court records.

Simmons was arrested Sept. 15 after Hawaii County Police Department officers responded to a report of a man threatening people with a knife at a home on Pumehana Street in Kailua-Kona, according to police. He allegedly threatened a 21-year-old Kailua-Kona man, identified as an acquaintance of Simmons, and also entered the man’s vehicle and removed items.

During the arrest, Simmons allegedly threatened and assaulted two HPD officers. One of the officers suffered a concussion and sprained knee while the other suffered a sprained knee and abrasions.

Not guilty plea in restaurant robbery

A 30-year-old Kailua-Kona man on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to robbery, kidnapping, assault, burglary and theft charges stemming from a Sept. 11 reported robbery of a restaurant on Kuakini Highway in Kailua-Kona.

Klay Brian Bensch entered the not guilty pleas to first-degree robbery, kidnapping, second-degree assault, first-degree burglary and second-degree theft before 3rd Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Strance, according to court records. She set his jury trial for 8 a.m. March 18.

Strance also maintained Bensch’s bail at $29,000. He remains in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

Bensch’s charges stem from a 10:30 p.m. Sept. 11 report of a robbery at a restaurant which had already closed. According to the Hawaii County Police Department, Bensch entered the establishment, approached a female employee from behind, threatened her with a weapon, forced her into another room and took an undisclosed amount of cash before fleeing on foot.

Bensch was subsequently arrested Sept. 17 and charged Sept. 18, according to police.

Pole installation to close 1 lane of Kuakini

One lane of Kuakini Highway will be closed for work on the Laaloa Avenue extension project next week. Hawaiian Electric Light Co. will install transmission poles along the highway between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, the Public Works Department said.

One lane will remain open between Sunset Drive and Akoni Drive.

Former planner has doubts about trail deal

PAPAIKOU — A former county planning director said Tuesday he’s “concerned” that a couple who owns the property with the only public access to a popular beach is “not going to want to negotiate over what the price of the trail is, but over whether or not there’s going to be public access.”

Chris Yuen, a lawyer and Ninole resident, made the comment at an informational meeting about Papaikou Mill Beach at the Papaikou Community Center. About 100 people, many sporting red-and-white palaka armbands symbolizing their support for 24-hour public access to the beach, met Tuesday night with Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter and Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida.

An appraisal commissioned by the county as part of the process put the price of the path at $28,500, but both Ashida and Poindexter said acquiring the path is not as simple as handing over a check to the property owners, Charlene Prickett and Jim Waugh.

Section of beach closed after shark attack

WAILUKU, Maui — Authorities have closed a section of Maui coastline after a man reported a 4-to-6 foot shark bit him while he was swimming in the ocean.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Wednesday the 45-year-old was about 100 yards from shore in Kaehu Bay when he dove down and felt something hit his left upper torso and buttocks.

The man elbowed and kicked the shark, then swam to shore.

The fire department says medics treated him on the scene for several 1-inch cuts on his lower back. The man drove himself to the hospital.

The man says the shark was gray and had a white dorsal fin.

The state is closing beaches between Sand Piles and Y. Hata store until noon Thursday.

Hawaii gay marriages could start Nov. 18

HONOLULU — Hawaii could begin issuing licenses and performing ceremonies for gay couples Nov. 18 if a bill passes during a special session that begins next week.

A Senate draft of the bill to be considered starting Monday says couples would be able to obtain licenses and be married the same day.

The draft released on Tuesday presents gay marriage as an equal rights issue, rather than a marriage issue. It changes sections in state law relating to marriage, marriage benefits and divorce.

The Legislature has begun accepting testimony on the bill, which will be introduced Monday morning and immediately referred to the Judiciary Committee.

Lawmakers and advocacy groups have pressed the issue since the summer, following two U.S. Supreme Court rulings seen as wins for gay marriage proponents. Gov. Neil Abercrombie called the special session after the House and Senate couldn’t muster the two-thirds support needed to call themselves into session.

By local and wire sources

Sapp was Miss America 1992

A story on page 1A of Wednesday’s paper incorrectly stated that no Miss Kona Coffee had ever gone on to be Miss Hawaii. Carolyn Sapp was Miss Kona Coffee and Miss Hawaii 1991. She went on to win the Miss America Pageant in 1992.

It is the policy of West Hawaii Today to correct promptly any incorrect or misleading information when it is brought to the attention of the newspaper.