By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A 48-year-old Mountain View man accused of a January killing in Eden Roc subdivision had obtained a temporary restraining order against the victim five days before the body was found and three days before police believe the slaying occurred.
Walter Boyd Bremmer and Cynthia Villella were granted a TRO against 52-year-old Robert John “Johnny” Leong on Jan. 23.
According to court documents, Villella told police Bremmer had informed her he entered Leong’s home at 11-3410 Palainui Ave. without permission and shot and strangled Leong. His body was found by the property owner on Jan. 28, and a court document indicates police believe he’d been dead for two days.
Bremmer, who was arrested last Wednesday, made his initial appearance on Monday in Hilo District Court. Judge Barbara Takase set a preliminary hearing for 2 p.m. today and denied a request by Stanton Oshiro, Bremmer’s court-appointed attorney, to set bail for his client.
Bremmer, who is in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center, is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree burglary and use of a firearm in a felony.
A court document filed by police states that a pocket knife believed to belong to Bremmer and containing his DNA was found next to Leong’s body, “and evidence believed to be used during the murder was recovered” from Bremmer’s residence. According to the document, forensic testing “also corroborated the information” Villella gave to police.
The document states that Leong died of “multiple gunshot wounds to the head and ligature strangulation,” which means strangulation with a cord-like object.
Bremmer was charged in July with domestic abuse; the alleged victim in the case was Villella, according to court documents. Prosecutors dismissed that case in August without prejudice — meaning the charges can be refiled — pending further investigation. Villella was also granted a TRO against Bremmer in July, effective through Jan. 13, 2013.
This is not the first time Bremmer is alleged to have been involved in a homicide. Prosecutors in Washington state granted him immunity for his testimony against another man, Erin Rieman, in the 2009 beating and strangulation death of 53-year-old fishing boat owner John Adkins of Albany, Ore.
According to the The Daily News of Longview, Wash., Bremmer told authorities that Rieman, who was Bremmer’s business partner, came back to the boat, the Tiger, on July 5, 2009, after a night of bar-hopping in Ilwaco, Wash., and attacked Adkins in the boat’s pilot house. He said that Rieman, who was hired to be the boat’s captain due to Adkins’ inexperience and made a full partner in the operation, put Adkins’ head through a window and threw him down a staircase into the galley. He said that Rieman then choked Adkins to death with a yellow extension cord.
Police said that Rieman and Bremmer, a deckhand on the boat, dumped Adkins’ body at sea the following day. The body has never been found.
Rieman, who was originally charged with second-degree murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 11 years in prison in May 2010. At his sentencing, Rieman, then 48, told Adkins’ family that he did not kill Adkins, but accepted the punishment because he failed to prevent the killing. He did not accuse Bremmer, but according to police, Rieman and Bremmer were the only people present during the homicide.
The prosecutor in the case said he offered Bremmer immunity for his testimony because Bremmer admitted only to helping to dispose of Adkins’ body, a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail.
Court records also indicate that Bremmer was convicted in 1988 of attempted robbery in North Carolina. He was sentenced to probation in that case.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.