By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
An 18-year-old man accused of robbing two California tourists at knifepoint on Feb. 6 at Kolekole Beach Park was “mistakenly released from jail,” according to the prosecutor assigned to the case.
Deputy Prosecutor Shannon Kagawa said Tuesday that an apparent paperwork snafu resulted in the release of Tyler Kamana‘o Taylor from Hawaii Community Correctional Center on March 6.
Taylor, who is accused of robbing two 29-year-old campers, Rayna Macher of San Mateo, Calif., and Daniel Toman of San Francisco, is charged with first-degree robbery, auto theft, third-degree criminal property damage, and two counts each of first-degree terroristic threatening, first-degree unlawful imprisonment and second-degree theft. Taylor was in custody in HCCC awaiting a March 6 preliminary hearing date in Hilo District Court when a grand jury indicted him for the same charges on Feb. 28, which made the preliminary hearing unnecessary.
Taylor instead entered a not guilty plea on March 6 before Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura, who scheduled a trial that was supposed to have begun Monday. Taylor was a no show for his trial date.
“On March 6, he appeared in Circuit Court and the bail was maintained at $121,000, and that’s off the indictment,” Kagawa said Tuesday. “We then filed (paperwork) in District Court dismissing the District Court case, the preliminary hearing. And the DPS released him, because they saw the dismissal.”
On Tuesday, the DPS website showed that Taylor has been out of custody since March 6. The reason stated is “case dismissed.” DPS spokeswoman Toni Schwartz called it a case of “two different courts (with) things happening at the same time.”
“The documents from the second court that said that he would stay on board didn’t come to us until after he had been released,” she said. “The first court, the District Court, the judge said ‘to be released immediately.’ So we released him on the 6th.”
Schwartz said that DPS received paperwork on the indictment five days later.
“Unless the courts tell us what’s going on, we just go on what we have, and what we had at the time was to be released immediately. We didn’t get the paperwork from the Circuit Court until the 11th,” she said.
An arrest warrant was issued for Taylor on May 22, and police issued a bulletin on June 12 asking the public for information on Taylor’s whereabouts. The bulletin didn’t mention how or why Taylor had been released from custody, only that he was being sought on the indictment for the robbery.
“Basically, there’s a warrant for his arrest. Once they pick him up, the bail is $121,000,” Kagawa said.
County Prosecutor Mitch Roth said he “can’t recall” a similar previous occurrence.
“We’re quite concerned,” he said. “As soon as we found out about it, we filed a warrant of arrest. Now that he’s not showed up (for trial) he’s looking at additional charges for bail jumping.” Roth added that a felony information complaint “is already in the works.”
“Our deputies did our job,” Roth said. “And unfortunately, somewhere down the line from us, something happened. I’m proud of the work our deputies did to fix it when we did find out.”
Asked if he considered Taylor to be dangerous, Roth replied, “Yes.”
Macher told the Tribune-Herald in February that she and Toman were awakened by an intruder in their tent at about 4 a.m. on Feb. 6. She said the intruder identified himself as “a ranger,” blinded them with a flashlight in their faces, slashed their tent with a knife, threatened them and took possessions including about $150 in cash. He also took the keys to Macher’s rental Ford Mustang, which he used to make his escape.
Police later found the Mustang abandoned in upper Wainaku and arrested Taylor on Feb. 8 at Rainbow Falls.
The most severe charge, first-degree robbery, is a Class A felony carrying a possible 20-year prison term.
Taylor is described as 5-foot-6, 150 pounds with short black hair. He has no permanent address but frequents the Puna district, police said. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the police non-emergency line at 935-3311 or to contact Detective Norbert Serrao at 961-2383 or email@example.com. Those who prefer anonymity may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.