By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
The victim of a Mother’s Day 2012 shooting testified Monday that she has a prior conviction for felony embezzlement.
“I did the crime and I paid the time,” June Shirshac said under cross examination by Deputy Public Defender Michael Ebesugawa, who’s defending Joseph Amormino Sr. Amormino is accused of shooting Shirshac four times on May 13, 2012 in the Panaewa home owned by her former husband, Francis Makaiwi.
“Embezzlement from your employer,” Ebesugawa said, drawing an objection from Deputy Prosecutor Mike Kagami, which was sustained by Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara. Shirshac was sentenced in November 1994 to a year in jail and five years probation for first-degree theft — meaning that more than $20,000 was stolen — from a travel agency where she worked.
The 57-year-old Shirshac’s answers to Ebesugawa’s questions over a three-day period cast her in an unfavorable light, as a gold digger who took financial advantage of a grieving, vulnerable widower. Shirshac testified that Amormino gave her credit cards, $15,000 in cash that he had borrowed using his pickup truck as collateral, and an engagement ring that she wore — even though she had no intention of marrying the 73-year-old retired Hawaii Community Correctional Center guard.
Under re-direct examination by Kagami, Shirshac testified that when Amormino gave her the ring, she told him, “It’s beautiful, but I cannot accept it.”
“How did the defendant react when you said that?” Kagami asked.
“Wasn’t pleased,” Shirshac replied.
She said that she turned down Amormino’s wedding proposal, but wore the ring when she was with him “just to make him happy.” She said he became upset whenever he saw her without it.
Shirshac said she backed out of an offer to marry Amormino in Las Vegas because he showed up reeking of liquor.
“The smell was horrible,” she said. “… I told him I didn’t want to marry a man who drinks.”
She testified that the $15,000 loan was also Amormino’s idea, to build a house on a Hawaiian Homes lot she has in Kawaihae, because he wanted them to live together.
“I told him I didn’t want the loan,” she said.
Makaiwi also took the witness stand on Monday. He said that he had remained friends with Shirshac, but there was no longer a romantic relationship between them. He was at home when the shooting occurred at about 5:30 p.m. that evening.
“When he stepped out of his car, I saw him carry a silver pistol,” Makaiwi said. He added that Shirshac “told me to call 911” and he locked himself in a bathroom inside the master bedroom and did so. Makaiwi, who was uninjured, said he also heard Amormino call his name “a couple of times” and then shoot door to his bedroom “about four or five” times.
He said he escaped the house by going through a sliding glass door in his bedroom which leads to a concrete walkway behind the house.
“When I got outside, I heard a couple more shots,” he said.
“… You hear anybody saying anything?” Kagami asked.
“No it was quiet,” Makaiwi answered.
Amormino is charged with first-degree attempted murder, two counts of second-degree attempted murder, burglary, use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, three other firearms violations and three counts of terroristic threatening. The first-degree attempted murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, upon conviction.
The terroristic threatening charges are the result of an alleged road rage incident during Amormino’s drive from his Hawaiian Beaches home to Panaewa. He allegedly pointed a pistol from his pickup truck at a family in another car on Highway 130 near Shower Drive in Hawaiian Paradise Park. Prosecutors allege that Amormino was following the family and became enraged because he thought the car was driving too slowly.
Amormino remains in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $656,000 bail. The trial continues today at 10 a.m.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org