IN BRIEF | BIG ISLAND & STATE


Lui, Morgan trial slated for September

A trial will be held in September for two sovereignty activists who are challenging charges that they were illegally camping on state land earlier this year while protesting the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Abel Simeona Lui and Kittrena Morgan were among 11 people arrested for camping near the King Kamehameha the Great statue in Hilo in April.

The activists had planted a small taro patch, called the “Kanaka Garden,” in front of the statue to highlight the 1893 overthrow and challenge the state Department of Land and Natural Resources jurisdiction over the park, part of the Wailoa River State Recreation Area.

The garden was started in January. Lui was camping at the park, he said to watch over the garden, for much of that time.

He was joined by the other activists in early April as they anticipated the removal of the garden.

On Wednesday, Lui and Morgan were each given a trial date of Sept. 16 in Hilo District Court.

A third activist, Simbralynn Kanakaole, had a hearing extended to Sept. 11.

Carjacking victim an ‘easy’ target

A police detective testified Wednesday afternoon that the suspect in a daylight knifepoint carjacking in the Hilo Target store parking lot told him he selected the victim because he “looked easy.”

Detective Grant Todd testified in the preliminary hearing for 19-year-old Alkapone Cruz-Balles that the defendant told him he went to the Makaala Street store “to take a vehicle.”

Cruz-Balles is charged with first-degree robbery and auto theft for allegedly pointing a knife at Alexander Guimaraes and taking the 24-year-old University of Hawaii at Hilo pharmacy student’s 2013 white Hyundai Sonata sedan.

“He said he particularly picked this victim because he looked easy, easy for him to get the car from this particular individual,” Todd said. “He stated that the main reason for taking the car is he wanted to go see his girlfriend who was in Pahoa at the time.”

Third District Judge Harry Freitas ruled that probable cause exists to try Cruz-Balles and ordered him to appear before 3rd Circuit Judge Glenn Hara for arraignment and plea at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 6.

First-degree robbery is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and auto theft is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

Cruz-Balles remains in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $12,000 bail.

Police charge Hilo man for shooting from car

Police Wednesday charged one of three adults arrested in connection with an incident involving shots being fired from a moving vehicle late Monday night in Hilo.

Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section charged Alfred Fuller IV, 22, of Hilo with first-degree reckless endangering, failure to have a place to keep a loaded firearm and failure to have place to keep ammunition. His bail was set at $7,500. He is being held at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for today.

The other two men arrested in this case were released Wednesday pending further investigation.

At 11:45 p.m. Monday, officers responded to several reports that gunshots had been fired from a car traveling east on Haihai Street between Heahea Street and Kinoole Avenue.

Police located the vehicle and arrested the three men and two 16-year-old boys. The juveniles were released to their parents pending further investigation.

3 months for Peeping Tom case at Hilo hostel

HILO — A Hilo man who has been sentenced to three months in jail for spying on women changing and showering at a hostel has been unfairly portrayed as a pervert, his public defender said.

“He’s an unsophisticated, not-well-conversant person in the English language,” Deputy Public Defender Belinda Castillo Hall said at Paul Waathmad’s sentencing. She said he accepted a deal to plead no contest to two counts of second-degree violation of privacy because he feared deportation to Yap, in the Federated States of Micronesia. “Mr. Waathmad is not a pervert, and judge, you can take that to the bank.”

The prosecution disagreed, saying he peered into a window at Hilo Tropical Gardens Hostel in 2011 as a 27-year-old woman was changing her clothes. During another incident a week later, prosecutors said, he pulled back a curtain as a 57-year-old woman was showering.

Waathmad was “caught up in a maelstrom of hysteria,” his attorney said. “He doesn’t want to jeopardize his prospect of remaining here in Hawaii, because he’s grateful for the opportunity that he’s been presented and provided,” she said. “And he doesn’t want to jeopardize those opportunities for himself and for his family. … He wants to raise his daughter in this community.”

Hostel owner Trish Owens said the incidents forced her to hire a night watchman and install cameras. She can’t sleep and walks around checking doors and windows, she said. “And I don’t want him to forget what he’s done because I know I’ll never forget it,” she said.

Waathmad, 31, apologized in court through a Yapese interpreter.

“I didn’t understand the things that happened,” he said. “I didn’t understand the rules and the laws of the state. Whatever punishment I’m given, I will deal with it.”

The judge also sentenced him to a year of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Report: Detained Kaneohe man was in chokehold

HONOLULU — A man who died last month in Honolulu police custody was put into a chokehold by the person accusing him of stealing a vehicle, according to a medical examiner’s report.

Stephen Dinnan, 35, was running away from police June 3 when the man reporting an auto theft stopped him and put him in a chokehold, the report said. The auto theft complainant and the officer arrived at the Waimanalo home together. The man released the chokehold after the officer told him to, and Dinnan was still conscious.

Dinnan became unresponsive after he was handcuffed while prone, said the autopsy report by Dr. Kanthis De Alwis. He was taken off life support after he was pronounced brain dead the next day.

De Alwis ruled it a homicide with a cause of death listed as asphyxia due to compression during prone restraint.

Police said at the time that Dinnan fled when officers arrived at the Waimanalo home to locate a stolen vehicle, and he fought off attempts to detain him. Dinnan became unresponsive shortly after he was brought under control, police said.

Police are conducting an internal investigation. The officer involved, a 26-year veteran of the force, was placed on administrative leave. He was later returned to active patrol duty, but after the autopsy report was released, he was reassigned to desk duties, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday.

“He brought the civilian there,” said Myles Breiner, an attorney representing Dinnan’s girlfriend, Shardeh Serhant, the mother of their two children. The family is claiming excessive force and police misconduct. “This officer, in my opinion, violated proper protocol.”

Police declined to comment.

Serhant’s previous attorney has said Dinnan wasn’t involved with any stolen vehicle and wasn’t running from police.

Breiner said he asked the FBI to investigate because he doesn’t believe Honolulu police will conduct an impartial investigation. The FBI won’t confirm whether there is such an investigation.

Breiner said he’s not yet exploring a lawsuit. “I just want a proper investigation by an independent agency,” he said.

Hawaii cyber range launches anti-hacking training

HONOLULU — The University of Hawaii at Manoa is launching a new center to train people to defend computers from hackers.

The cyber range is a collection of servers and routers in a room on campus. It will allow people to practice hacking computer systems as a way to learn about vulnerabilities.

Brian Chee of the university’s Advanced Network Computing Laboratory said you won’t really know how fragile your system is until you try to break it.

Chee said most cyber ranges in the country have so far been created for the military.

Employees of utilities, airlines, banks and other companies are expected to practice their skills at the center.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and other officials dedicated the new facility Wednesday by untying a green leaf maile lei.

Guam still facing ER burden despite public clinics

HAGATNA, Guam — Public health officials in Guam say a high number of people are still visiting the emergency room unnecessarily despite laws designed to drive them toward public health clinics.

Pacific Daily News reports about 70 percent of the 150 people who visit the emergency room each day aren’t admitted to Guam Memorial Hospital.

“If the intent of the law was to take pressure off of the ER, it didn’t work,” Director James Gillan of the Department of Public Health and Social Services said.

A department report says many private clinics won’t accept patients under Medicaid or the Medically Indigent Program. That means many people without private health insurance end up going to the emergency room.

The report says Medicaid patients are more than three times more likely to visit the emergency room than those who are privately insured.

The clinics can’t provide urgent care services and aren’t able to stay open 24 hours a day, said Joseph Verga, administrator for Guam Memorial Hospital.

Verga said most people go to the emergency room because the ER will see everyone in need, even if it’s not an emergency or people can’t pay.

Hawaii Legislature won’t call 2013 special session

HONOLULU — Hawaii House and Senate lawmakers say they don’t have enough support to call a special session to consider whether to legalize gay marriage.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday that House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said the Legislature doesn’t have the two-thirds majority needed to call a special session.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie can call for a special session if he chooses.

Supporters of gay marriage have renewed a push on the issue in Hawaii since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that legally married gay couples can get federal benefits.

Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria says it’s not likely lawmakers will be called into session unless there is a good chance a bill would be passed.

Hawaii allows civil unions without the marriage label.

Regular session resumes next year.

By local and wire sources