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Mental exam ordered for shooting suspect

<p>JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald</p><p>Joseph Amormino appears in court Thursday in Hilo.</p>


Tribune-Herald staff writer

A 72-year-old Hawaiian Beaches man accused of shooting his ex-girlfriend four times in Panaewa on Mother’s Day will undergo a mental evaluation.

Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara on Thursday ordered an evaluation by a panel of three mental health professionals for Joseph Amormino Sr. He scheduled a hearing on the findings of the examiners for Jan. 8 at 8 a.m.

Amormino, a retired Hawaii Community Correctional Center adult corrections officer, has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the shooting on May 13 of 56-year-old June Shirshac, a greeter at the Hilo Walmart store. Amormino, Shirshac’s former boyfriend, is charged with first-degree attempted murder, two counts of second-degree attempted murder, burglary, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, three other firearms offenses and three counts of terroristic threatening.

He remains in custody in HCCC, where he once worked, unable to post $656,000 bail.

Amormino’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Ebesugawa, has filed a motion to withdraw as defense counsel, stating that Amormino has filed a complaint against him with the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Hara delayed ruling on the motion to withdraw until the January hearing.

“I think it’s hard for me to rule on this before I know what Mr. Amormino’s complaints were, substantively, to the ODC,” the judge said.

Ebesugawa requested that the judge seal the complaint document and that its contents be divulged only to the defense and not the prosecution.

“I’m informed and believe that certain representations made by the defendant touch upon substantive issues in the case rather than simply complaints (about counsel),” Ebesugawa told the judge.

Hara granted Ebesugawa’s request.

Amormino was arrested shortly after the shooting at 1197 Auwae Road, where Shirshac lived in the same house with her 63-year-old ex-husband Francis Makaiwi, whom Amormino also allegedly tried to shoot. A Honolulu police sergeant who interviewed Shirshac at Queen’s testified during a preliminary hearing that Amormino shot Shirshac two days after she broke off their relationship. Sgt. Nancy DeFoster said that, according to Shirshac, Amormino had told her she wasn’t going to die, but she wouldn’t walk again.

Hilo police Detective Wendall Carter testified at the preliminary hearing that Shirshac suffered gunshot wounds to her left shoulder, left knee, right thigh and right hand.

A family member told the Tribune-Herald in July that Shirshac is recovering from her injuries.

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