By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Trial is set for a 27-year-old Mountain View man accused of running over and killing an elderly bicyclist with a pickup truck late last month.
Siaiku Lucky Aholelei pleaded not guilty Monday morning to charges of manslaughter and negligent homicide for the Sept. 27 traffic crash near the Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii campus in Keaau that killed 66-year-old Cenon Visaya. Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ordered him to appear for trial on Feb. 18 at 9 a.m.
Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Lee estimated that trial would last three to four weeks.
Aholelei is free on $275,000 bail. His lawyer, Peter Hsieh, asked the judge to consider reducing it to $150,000. He said that Aholelei’s family had to post collateral to secure his bail and argued that it’s “not necessary to carry a bail so high.”
“It’s a bit of an overkill, your Honor,” Hsieh said. He added that the bail bondsman was requiring Aholelei to wear an electronic ankle bracelet to monitor his movements. Hsieh called the electronic monitoring “humiliating and unnecessary” and added that if the bond was reduced, the bondsman would allow the device to be removed “so he doesn’t have to walk around like a criminal.”
“The bail bondsman told his family, ‘If you can get his bail reduced, then the ankle bracelet will come off,” Hsieh said.
Lee objected any reduction in Aholelei’s bail noting the “seriousness of the allegations” and the potential for lengthy incarceration in the case. Manslaughter carries a possible 20-year prison term upon conviction, while a negligent homicide conviction could result in a 10-year prison term. He also pointed out that Aholelei has a prior conviction for bail jumping, which resulted in a five-year prison sentence in 2008.
Hsieh countered that the bail jumping charge was the result of his client missing a court date, calling it “nothing more than his failure to show” and described Aholelei as “very responsible and law-abiding” with a strong local family present in court.
“He will not jump bail; he will not miss any proceedings. He’s not a flight risk,” Hsieh said.
Hsieh also asked the judge to allow Aholelei to fly to Las Vegas to “effectuate the move of his family to Las Vegas.” That request drew what Lee described as “some very strong objections” from the state.
Lee said that if Aholelei failed to return from the mainland, “it’s gonna cost the state a great deal to find Mr. Aholelei and bring him back to jail.”
Nakamura denied both motions and told Hsieh that he is free to file written motions to renew both requests.
An eyewitness to the crash, Nerissa De Lima, testified in a preliminary hearing on Oct. 1 that Aholelei appeared to be “playing tag” with the driver of another truck from the corner of Kanoelehua Avenue and Makaala Street in Hilo until the fatal crash occurred. She and another witness, Charlene Milazzo, said they saw Aholelei apparently lose control of the vehicle. They said the truck crossed the median, went airborne and crossed Hilo-bound traffic lanes on Volcano Highway (Route 11) before slamming into Visaya, who died at the scene.
De Lima said the other truck’s driver, a woman, “proceeded to go on her merry way” toward Mountain View.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.