Plea deal may be close in Puna man’s slaying
By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Robert “Johnny” Leong lived in a converted shipping container in Puna’s Eden Roc subdivision, but a childhood friend told the Tribune-Herald last year that he was “a ladies’ man.” His appetite for other men’s women may have led to the January 2012 killing of the container Casanova, according to court documents filed by police.
An acquaintance of the 52-year-old Leong told police that in late December 2011, Leong had shown him cellphone photographs of a naked woman. The man said Leong had told him that he was having a sexual relationship with the woman and that the woman was the girlfriend of Leong’s neighbor, Walter Boyd Bremmer.
Deputy Prosecutor Mike Kagami said Monday that a plea bargain is in the works for the 49-year-old Bremmer, who’s charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Kagami declined to reveal details of the deal since it hadn’t been finalized. Bremmer, whose trial was scheduled to start on Monday, could change his plea at a hearing scheduled for April 5 at 10:30 a.m. before Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura.
Leong’s body was discovered on Jan. 28 in the back yard of his Palainui Avenue home “with some type of cord wrapped around his neck and tied to a floor joist of the residence,” documents state. Police say Leong also had multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
Bremmer and his girlfriend, Cynthia Villella, had been granted a temporary restraining order against Leong on Jan. 23, five days before Leong’s body was found by his landlord, Lloyd Dela Cruz, and three days before police believe the slaying occurred. Dela Cruz told police that Leong had been living in the converted container since December 2011, after Leong’s trailer had burned down. The previously mentioned acquaintance told police that Leong believed Bremmer and Villella’s son were responsible for the trailer fire, according to documents.
Documents state that Villella told police Bremmer had informed her he entered Leong’s home without permission and shot and strangled Leong.
Another acquaintance also told police that Leong had shown him cellphone photographs of a naked woman, according to documents. The man said Leong told him the woman was from Waimea and that Leong was having a sexual relationship with her while the woman’s husband was on Oahu.
This isn’t the first time Bremmer has been linked to 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, 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 slaying. He didn’t 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.
Bremmer is in custody without bail at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.
Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune- herald.com.
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