Wednesday | December 13, 2017
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Fatal hit-run hearing turns emotional

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Brian De Lima is Keempe Drequito’s court-appointed attorney. His services were retained privately.

Friends and family of a 31-year-old Keaau man killed in a fiery hit-and-run crash Sunday night in Hawaiian Paradise Park crowded a Hilo courtroom Wednesday for the initial appearance of a man police say caused the collision and then fled the scene as the victim died, unable to escape the ignited, overturned wreckage.

Clad mostly in red, about 20 loved ones of Travis Serquina sat relatively calmly through the initial court appearance of 26-year-old Keempe Obra Drequito, who’s charged with manslaughter, first-degree negligent homicide, leaving the scene and reckless driving for the tragic Mother’s Day collision that took Serquina’s life.

The mood shifted, however, after Hilo District Judge Michael Udovic maintained Drequito’s $286,000 bail and ordered him to return at 2 p.m. June 1 for a preliminary hearing. Drequito’s attorney, Brian DeLima, told the judge that the prelim will “more likely than not” be waived on that date.

As Drequito was escorted back to the courtroom cellblock by sheriff’s deputies, audible but mostly unintelligible grumbling could be heard from the courtroom gallery.

One man, apparently unsatisfied that Drequito remained silent during the hearing, sounded off.

“He didn’t even say sorry. Right?” the man said, and then shouted, “He didn’t even say sorry! Nothin’ huh! Nothin’ you f——— punk! F——-, that’s not fair, brah!”

A red-clad man then turned his attention to the judge and said, with increasing volume, “I was the one who wen’ pull (Serquina) out of the truck, yeah. A life for one life, brah. I was the one was there and have fo’ pull one guy out of the truck. No bail! No bail, brah! A life for one life! I don’t know what you no understand!”

Udovic sat impassively as deputies cleared the courtroom without further incident.

According to court documents filed by police, Drequito’s 2003 Mazda sedan was seen by witnesses traveling at a high rate of speed on the closed shoulder lane of Highway 130 used for peak-hour traffic, prior to rear-ending Serquina’s 1990 Toyota pickup near the intersection of Shower Drive and Pohaku Drive.

Drequito, who was cited five times for speeding or driving too fast for conditions between 2010 and 2015, was later apprehended at his home. Documents state Drequito was administered standard field sobriety tests and displayed signs of impairment. He was then taken to Hilo Medical Center for a blood test, but wasn’t charged with DUI.

Manslaughter is a Class A felony that carries a possible 20-year prison term upon conviction, while first-degree negligent homicide is a Class B felony that carries a maximum 10-year prison term. Drequito cannot be convicted of both charges. Leaving the scene of a fatal accident also is a Class B felony, while reckless driving is a petty misdemeanor carrying a potential 30-day jail term.

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