By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A 31-year-old Kona man accused of breaking out of Oahu Community Correctional Center and a 30-year-old Pahoa man accused of harboring him made their initial court appearances Monday.
Ryan James Jeffries-Hamar entered not guilty pleas to charges of first-degree escape, second-degree assault, second-degree robbery, kidnapping, second-degree unlawful imprisonment, auto theft and third-degree criminal property damage, and Tyler John Tzovarras pleaded not guilty to first-degree hindering prosecution.
Deputy Public Defender Zack Wingert requested that the court set bail for Jeffries-Hamar, while Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Malate requested that Jeffries-Hamar continue to be held without bail.
“Defendant does have a prior escape that is pending before he allegedly committed these other offenses … ,” Malate said. “The state does feel that he is a danger to the community. According to the bail study, he is a multi-state offender with convictions in Hawaii, Alaska and California.”
Hilo District Judge Harry Freitas denied the bail request for Jeffries-Hamar, and ordered him to return to court at 2 p.m. today for a preliminary hearing with co-defendant Jarvis Naoki Higa.
Jeffries-Hamar and Higa, 35, of Hilo are accused of attacking an unarmed corrections officer on Dec. 5, stealing his keys to the facility and then stealing the car of the facility’s law librarian, a 49-year-old woman.
According to court documents, Jeffries-Hamar told the librarian: “I won’t hurt you, just give me that keys.” The documents state that the librarian, Wendy Osborne, gave Jeffries-Hamar the keys because she feared for her safety.
Osborne was unhurt in the incident but was described as “traumatized” by state Department of Public Safety Director Ted Sakai. The guard, 63-year-old Roberto Paulino, was treated and released for injuries to his neck and face at Hilo Medical Center.
Jeffries-Hamar and Higa, the latter awaiting trial on an attempted murder charge, then stole the car and dumped it in the nearby Sunrise Ridge subdivision in Hilo, police said. A massive manhunt ensued.
Higa was arrested Dec. 7 in the remote Ka‘u community of Ocean View. Jeffries-Hamar was arrested Thursday night at a home at 15-2676 Kawakawa St. in the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision in Pahoa. According to police, he was hiding in a bedroom in the home. Also arrested was Tzovarras, whom police said rode Jeffries-Hamar from Kona to Puna on a motorcycle and hid him in the home.
Tzovarras’ court-appointed attorney, Cody Frenz, asked for the charge to be dropped, stating that a probable cause affidavit provided “insufficient basis … to hold my client as to the current charge of felony hindering prosecution in the first degree.”
“They would have to prove that he knew that the person he was allegedly aiding and abetting was wanted for (a felony),” Frenz said. “There is absolutely no information in the (document) that he had knowledge.”
Freitas found that probable cause exists to hold Tzovarras on the hindering prosecution charge and ordered him to appear for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday at 2 p.m. He also ordered that Tzovarras bail be maintained at $10,000 on the charge.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.