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Mental exam ordered for alleged police shooter


Tribune-Herald staff writer

A mental examination has been ordered for a 31-year-old Hilo man accused of shooting two police officers.

On Thursday, Hilo District Judge David Kuwahara set a hearing for March 12 at 1:30 p.m. for Keaka Kaneiala Martin, so three mental health professionals can file reports on Martin’s mental capacity at the time of the shootings and his fitness to proceed to trial. A preliminary hearing for Martin was suspended to allow for the mental exam.

Martin is accused of shooting Hilo Patrol Officers Garrett Hatada and Joshua Gouveia with a 9 mm handgun on the evening of Jan. 2 in the parking lot of Pono Place on Kilauea Avenue, the site of the former Green Onion cocktail lounge. Both officers sustained leg wounds and were hospitalized. Both have since been released from the hospital, but neither has returned to duty, according to a police spokeswoman.

Police say Martin, who was the subject of an extensive manhunt, shot himself in the chest the following afternoon as officers converged on an East Palai Street home where he was hiding. According to court documents, a Smith and Wesson Model 9V semi-automatic pistol with a silver barrel and black handle was lying on the floor “in close proximity to Martin.”

Martin was admitted to Hilo Medical Center in critical condition, but recovered and was later released into police custody. He’s being held without bail at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

He’s charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, plus second-degree reckless endangering, illegal place to keep a firearm, possessing a loaded firearm on a highway, two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, prohibited ownership or possession of a firearm and altering the identification markings on a firearm.

Deputy Prosecutor Mike Kagami objected to the motion for the mental exam filed by Martin’s court-appointed attorney, Steve Strauss.

“I couldn’t tell from the motion or the affidavit, but I would object to there being an examination at this point and if we’re only dealing with capacity issues,” he said. “If what Mr. Strauss is worried about affects only those issues, then we can move forward with the preliminary hearing.”

Strauss argued that the motion wasn’t limited to Martin’s mental capacity.

“I think what’s set forth in the declaration under seal is consistent with the court’s policy for (mental) examinations. This is not even borderline; it is a well-merited motion,” he said.

Replied Kagami: “I don’t see any kind of fitness (issues).”

Kagami explained afterward that capacity has to do with whether Martin understood the law and his ability to comply with it, while fitness is whether or not he is capable of participating in his own defense.

Strauss said details of why the request was made were sealed because medical issues are protected by a federal privacy law.

Martin was in a wheelchair for his initial court appearance on Jan. 11, but walked in and out of court on Thursday and stood for the duration of the brief proceeding.

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