By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
It appears that a plea deal has been made in the case of a 20-year-old Hawaiian Paradise Park man who allegedly invaded a neighbor’s home and brutally attacked and burglarized her a little more than a year ago.
Trial for Seferin Tilipau, aka Seferin Tilipou, was scheduled to start Monday, but Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura set a change-of-plea hearing for Jan. 16 at 8 a.m.
“Offers and counter-offers have been made; we’re at the point where we’ve accepted the state’s counter-offer,” Tilipau’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Melody Parker, told the judge.
Details of the plea bargain were not put on the record.
Tilipau pleaded not guilty in December 2011 to charges of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree burglary and first-degree assault. He allegedly forced his way into the home of then 69-year-old neighbor Mary Davy on Oct. 22, 2011, punched her in the face and stabbed her numerous times with a pair of the woman’s gardening shears.
A panel of two psychiatrists and a psychologist has found Tilipau fit to stand trial.
Deputy Prosecutor Lucas Burns, appearing for Deputy Prosecutor Shannon Kagawa, told the court that a complaint to supersede Tilipou’s indictment would be filed. Kagawa said that Tilipau will still be charged with attempted murder in the updated complaint.
The original indictment seeks a possible sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for Tilipau because the victim, Davy, is older than 60.
Kagawa declined to comment on the terms of the plea deal, since it hasn’t been formally accepted on the record and Tilipau has not changed his plea, but a potential scenario is that the superseding complaint will drop the request for the no-parole life term in return for a guilty or no contest plea by Tilipou. A conviction for second-degree attempted murder carries a mandatory life sentence with the possibility of parole.
Tilipau, who is deaf, was assisted in court by two sign-language interpreters, one for American Sign Language, another to translate ASL translations into a dialect Tilipau can understand.
Tilipau has been in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center since his arrest last year, unable to post $500,000 bail.
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