Monday | October 16, 2017
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‘He was about to be killed’

The lawyer for an Ocean View man accused of stabbing a Hilo man Saturday afternoon near a popular Keaukaha beach said his client feared for his life and was defending himself.

During the initial court appearance Tuesday of 46-year-old Paul Michael Gibson, his attorney, Michael Zola, told Hilo District Judge Diana Van De Car it was “absolutely clear” Gibson “is the victim in this case.”

Gibson is charged with attempted second-degree murder, third-degree assault, two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, five firearms offenses, resisting an order to stop, and failure to provide a DNA specimen.

“The facts will come out, and the facts will show that Mr. Gibson was in fear for his life, certain that he was about to be killed, when he used a knife in self-defense,” Zola said.

According to court documents filed by police, Gibson was involved in a physical affray with 41-year-old David Coombes of Hilo at the southwest end of James Kealoha Beach Park, also known as “4-mile beach.” Documents state Gibson brandished a knife with a 6-inch blade and stabbed Coombes seven times “along his left and rear mid-section” and also brandished a black handgun with the hammer cocked and pointed it at Coombes’ head.

Coombes was taken to Hilo Medical Center in critical but stable condition, police said. His condition was later upgraded to serious but stable, documents state.

Gibson rode away on a black Harley Davidson and was allegedly seen throwing an object into some bushes on Apapane Road. Police reported finding a loaded black .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol in the area. A patrol officer reportedly saw a bloody motorcyclist on Kalanianaole Avenue and radioed it in.

Another officer picked up pursuit of the bike, documents state. When the officer turned on his strobe lights and sirens, the rider allegedly took off at high speed, overtook two cars by crossing a double-solid yellow line and turned left onto Kanoelehua Avenue. The officer continued to follow the motorcycle onto Kekuanaoa Street and Laukapu Street. The motorcyclist stopped at the corner of Laukapu and Lanikaula streets, where he was taken into custody.

Zola asked the court to free Gibson, the owner of Built to Last Plumbing in Naalehu, on supervised release, describing him as “a trustworthy citizen” who “owns three homes on this island” and “a genuinely respectable gentleman.” He pointed to Gibson’s family in the courtroom gallery.

“I have in front of me, $169,000 worth of contracts that he could be earning money for his family and for his defense if he’s allowed to be released,” Zola said, holding up a sheaf of papers. He added his client is “absolutely not a flight risk” and “not a threat to the public in any sense of the matter.”

Deputy Prosecutor Patricia Loo argued to maintain Gibson’s bail at $374,000.

“It’s good that Mr. Gibson is employed, a longtime resident and a good father, as well as that he may have integrity. However, we argue that he is not a respectable gentleman given the allegations that we are charging him with,” she told the judge. “… The concern of this court is protecting citizens from violence and danger. Not only the community at large, but the victim in this case. Mr. Gibson, the allegations were that he was brandishing a knife and stabbed the victim at least seven times in the midsection.

“With the weapon, with behavior that indicates uncontrolled or undisciplined emotions, whatever the case may be, your Honor, our priority is that the court protect this community.”

Van De Car maintained Gibson’s bail and set a preliminary hearing for 2 p.m. today.

Afterward, Zola said “it will come out that he (Gibson) was attacked by a very large person” and “there were threats against his life.”

“He felt he had no choice but to do what he did. He was about to be killed.”

Email John Burnett at


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