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Alleged knifepoint carjacker appears in court

<p>Alkapone Cruz-Balles appears Monday afternoon in Hilo District Court. JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald</p>


Tribune-Herald staff writer

A 19-year-old Mountain View man accused of a daylight knifepoint carjacking in the parking lot of the Hilo Target store told police he targeted the victim, according to court documents.

Alkapone Cruz-Balles allegedly told police he saw the car’s owner, 24-year-old Alexander Guimaraes, enter the store early Wednesday evening. He said he waited for Guimaraes to return, then pulled out his knife, pointed it at Guimaraes and told him to give him the keys to his 2013 Hyundai four-door sedan. He said that Guimaraes gave him the keys and ran back to the store.

Guimaraes, a student at the University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy, described the weapon as a folding knife with a serrated blade about four to five inches in length. He told police that he feared for his life, so he gave Cruz-Balles the keys and fled. He said that Cruz-Balles got into the driver’s seat and drove away. He estimated the value of the car at $20,000, documents state.

Guimaraes identified Cruz-Balles from a lineup of photographs.

Cruz-Balles reportedly told police that he drove to Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant in Pahoa to pick up his girlfriend, a 14-year-old Hawaiian Beaches girl, and then drove to Pohoiki. The girl’s older sister, who was also at Luquin’s, told police she asked Cruz-Balles where he got the car and he told her he stole it from the Target parking lot. She also identified Cruz-Balles from the photographic lineup, documents state.

Documents state that the girl’s grandmother reported to police that the girl left Pahoa with Cruz-Balles in a new, white Hyundai she believed may be stolen.

A police officer saw the car parked at Isaac Hale Beach Park in Pohoiki later that evening and approached the vehicle. He saw the girl get into the front passenger seat of the sedan and Cruz-Balles slide behind the wheel and attempt to start it, documents state. The officer then arrested Cruz-Balles.

Cruz-Balles, who’s charged with first-degree robbery and auto theft, made his initial court appearance Monday afternoon. Hilo District Judge Barbara Takase maintained his bail at $12,000 and scheduled a preliminary hearing for Wednesday at 2 p.m.

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 in prison.

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