By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A 34-year-old Hilo man accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend and her mother in their Waiakea Houselots home called 911 “to report that he just shot two people in his residence,” according to court documents filed by police.
The documents state that Sean Ivan Masa Matsumoto was still on his cell phone with police dispatchers when officers arrived at the home at 612 Leilani St. at about 11:21 p.m. Monday night.
Responding officers also found 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.
Officers also found a loaded black 12-gauge shotgun on the living room sofa, about seven feet away from one of the victims, according to documents.
Matsumoto reportedly told responding officers, “I’m sorry, I know I had the gun in my hand,” and asked, “Is my son OK?”
Police said that two children were also at the home and were physically unharmed. They and are now in the care of relatives, police said. One is Matsumoto’s and Rhonda Ahu’s six-year-old son; the other is Rhonda Ahu’s 15-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, a friend of the Ahus said.
Police have said it is possible the children witnessed the shootings.
Matsumoto, who is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, three counts of use of a firearm in a commission of a separate felony and first-degree reckless endangering, made his initial appearance in Hilo District Court on Thursday afternoon.
Deputy Public Defender Sherilyn Tavares asked the court to set “reasonable bail … in all matters” for Matsumoto, who was being held without bail.
Deputy Prosecutor Darien Nagata requested that Matsumoto’s no-bail status be maintained.
“Murder one is a serious crime,” she said. “… It is punishable by life without possibility of parole.” She added that the nature of the charges make Matsumoto a potential flight risk if he were to be freed on bail.
The first-degree murder charge was filed because there was more than one victim in the fatal shootings. If Matsumoto is convicted of first-degree murder, a sentence of life imprisonment without parole is mandatory. A conviction on second-degree murder charges carries a mandatory sentence of life with the possibility of parole.
Judge Harry Freitas denied the defense request for bail and scheduled a preliminary hearing for Tuesday at 2 p.m. for Matsumoto.
Autopsies on both victims are scheduled for this morning, police said.
Matsumoto pleaded no contest to a domestic abuse charge on Feb. 2, 2007, and was sentenced by then-Family Court Judge Wayne Metcalf to two days in jail and two years probation. Court records indicate that the charge stemmed from an October 2006 incident in which Matsumoto refused an order from a police officer to leave the home of the victim, who wasn’t named in the records.
His grandfather, Masayuki Matsumoto, paid $1,000 to bail Matsumoto out of jail on Oct. 11, 2006, records state. The elder Matsumoto was at his grandson’s court appearance on Thursday.
Sean Matsumoto told the judge at sentencing that he had reconciled with his girlfriend, that the couple had a baby six days earlier and he was attending cooking school.
On Feb. 21, 2008, a warrant was issued for Matsumoto’s arrest for failure to attend court-ordered domestic violence counseling. The state also filed a motion on that date to revoke Matsumoto’s probation.
Records indicate Rhonda Ahu posted $1,000 to bail Matsumoto out of jail on Feb. 29, 2008.
Matsumoto was later found to be in compliance with his probation and the state withdrew its motion to revoke Matsumoto’s probation on Aug. 6, 2008, records state.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.