Sunday | October 22, 2017
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Local Briefs | Stephens Media

Judge refuses to recuse herself

A judge has denied a defense request to recuse herself from hearing the case of a Hilo man accused of the shotgun slaying of his girlfriend and her mother in their Waiakea Houselots home.

On Tuesday, Deputy Public Defender Michael Ebesugawa asked that 3rd District Judge Barbara Takase step down in the case of 34-year-old Sean Ivan Masa Matsumoto, who is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder, first-degree reckless endangering and three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony. Court documents filed by police state that Matsumoto called 911 after 11 p.m. on the night of Feb. 11 “to report that he just shot two people in his residence.”

Responding officers discovered the bodies of Matsumoto’s 45-year-old girlfriend, Rhonda Lynn Alohalani Ahu, and her mother, 74-year-old Elaine Ahu, “with what appeared to be gunshot wounds to both their heads and faces,” documents state. Police found a 12-gauge shotgun at the Leilani Street home, according to documents.

Matsumoto was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, but at the start of proceedings, Ebesugawa said he was “informed and believe that the court may have a connection in this case” and “that it may be unwise for the court to sit in this preliminary hearing.”

“Specifically, I’m informed and believe the court may have employed one of the decedents in this case, Rhonda Lynn Ahu, as a housekeeper in the past. … I cannot put a date on when this occurred. However, I’m informed and believe that it occurred while the court’s children were young. It appears that this was not a one-time matter, but a continuing one,” Ebesugawa told the judge.

Charter school employee appeals fine

A Connections New Century Public Charter School employee is appealing an ethics commission ruling after being slapped with a $10,000 fine earlier this month.

William Eric Boyd, an administrative assistant at the school, was found guilty of 20 separate violations of the state ethics code and given the maximum fine allowable by law of $500 on each count, according to the Feb. 8 ruling handed down by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

In their decision, the three current members of the panel found that Boyd ran afoul of the state’s conflict of interest law when, acting as an employee of the charter school, he filled out and approved multiple purchase orders for school supplies from businesses owned by him and his wife, Erika Boyd.

Among the first nine charges, ranging from Sept. 12, 2006, to June 29, 2007, the charter school made nearly $6,000 in purchases at Eric Boyd’s request from the Boyds’ Amway distributorship, according to the commission. The purchases covered items such as books, classroom supplies, custodial supplies, cleaning supplies, digital camcorders, fax/copier, and ink.

The commission also found that Boyd was in the wrong when he certified and submitted invoices to Connections in 2007 on behalf of his and his wife’s company for school lunches. On a total of 11 counts, the pair were paid more than $5,000.