A Kailua-Kona man recently pleaded guilty to robbery, theft and kidnapping charges stemming from two robberies reported in early January in the Kona District.
James Kekai Hao pleaded guilty June 27 before 3rd Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Strance to two counts each second-degree robbery and second-degree theft and one count each first-degree terroristic threatening and kidnapping, according to 3rd Circuit Court records. He also submitted a motion for deferral of his guilty pleas. A sentencing date was not yet available.
Hao was charged Jan. 21 with 11 offenses in connection with reported robberies on Jan. 5 in the Kaloko Light Industrial Area and Jan. 12 at the Keauhou Store in Holualoa, according to police.
In connection with the Jan. 5 reported robbery, Hao was charged with first-degree robbery, kidnapping, second-degree theft, fourth-degree criminal property damage and two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, according to police. In addition to those charges, Hao faced charges of second-degree robbery, second-degree theft, third-degree assault, second-degree terroristic threatening and third-degree promoting a detrimental drug stemming from the Jan. 12 robbery.
In the first incident, a 63-year-old Kailua-Kona woman reported to police that a man had entered her Kaloko Business Center V store and confronted her with scissors before he took an undisclosed amount of money from the store’s cash register. The man then fled on foot. The woman was not injured, according to police.
One week later, a 34-year-old cashier at the Keauhou Store reported a man had entered the store and forcibly removed an undisclosed amount of cash from the register. The woman suffered minor injuries, but did not require medical treatment, according to police.
The store’s surveillance system captured images of the suspect and another man, who remained outside the store and appeared to be on the lookout, according to police. The two reportedly fled in a white Jeep Wrangler.
The second man, also a Kailua-Kona resident, was also charged in connection with the robberies. The charges were dropped during a February preliminary hearing in which Hao testified the man had no knowledge of the robbery or the reason for driving him to the Keauhou Store.