By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Trials have been set in three murder cases and an attempted murder case, and a second trial has been scheduled for a man whose murder conviction was overturned on appeal.
Sean Ivan Matsumoto pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon to first-degree murder, two counts each of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, three other firearms violations, and reckless endangering. Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura set trial for July 15 at 9 a.m.
The 34-year-old Matsumoto is accused of the shotgun slaying of his 45-year-old girlfriend, Rhonda Lynn Alohalani Ahu, and her mother, 74-year-old Elaine Ahu, in the late-night hours of Feb. 11.
Court documents filed by police say that Matsumoto called 911 “to report that he just shot two people in his residence” and that he was still on his cell phone with dispatchers when officers arrived at the home at 612 Leilani St. in the Waiakea Houselots area of Hilo.
Police recovered a loaded .12-gauge shotgun at the home, documents state.
The first-degree murder charge was filed because there was more than one victim in the fatal shootings. If Matsumoto is convicted of first-degree murder, a sentence of life imprisonment without parole is mandatory. A conviction on second-degree murder charges carries a mandatory sentence of life with the possibility of parole. Each count of using a firearm in the commission of a felony carries a possible 20-year prison term.
The reckless endangering charge came because two children, Rhonda Ahu’s daughter from a previous relationship and a son from her relationship with Matsumoto, were in the home. Police say both were physically unharmed.
Matsumoto remains in custody without bail at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.
Then on Thursday, Nakamura ordered Keaka Kaneiala Martin to stand trial June 3 at 9 a.m.
The 31-year-old Martin pleaded not guilty to two counts each of first-degree attempted murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, plus reckless endangering and four firearms violations. He’s 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.
Deputy Public Defender Jennifer Wharton told the court her office has a conflict and that Steve Strauss was appointed as Martin’s attorney in District Court. She said that Strauss intends to seek a mental exam for Martin, who faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of first-degree attempted murder.
Martin is in custody without bail in HCCC.
Also on Thursday, Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara set trials for 19-year-old Kawena K. Krause of Kurtistown and 55-year-old Mark David Whyne of Hilo in separate murder cases.
Krause is accused, as is his 30-year-old cousin Claude Keone Krause, of the Dec. 28 shooting and strangulation death of 44-year-old Dante Peter Gilman, at the victim’s Hawaiian Acres home. Kawena Krause’s trial is set for June 10 at 8:30 a.m., but he has requested a mental exam. Claude Krause’s trial is scheduled for May 20, also before Hara.
Both Krauses are in custody without bail in HCCC.
Whyne is accused of the Dec. 29 shooting death of 32-year-old Faafetai Fiu on the Hilo Bayfront. Police said in court documents that Fiu was shot eight times with a 9 mm handgun, and that one of the victim’s children may have witnessed the slaying. Trial is set for July 8 at 8:30 a.m., but Whyne has also requested a mental examination.
Whyne is also in HCCC without bail.
In addition, a second murder trial has been set for Malaki McBride, on May 13 at 8:30 a.m. before Hara.
The 23-year-old Puna man was convicted of the Feb. 25, 2007 shotgun slaying of 21-year-old Tyrone Torres, and he was sentenced in 2010 to life plus 20 years for the homicide in Nanawale Estates, but the conviction was overturned by the state Intermediate Court of Appeals, which ruled the judge’s oral instructions to the jury on the extreme mental or emotional disturbance defense differed from the agreed-upon written instructions.
McBride remains in custody on a firearms conviction, which was not overturned.
Also pleading not guilty to numerous charges is 18-year-old Tyler Kamana‘o Taylor, accused of robbing two California tourists at knifepoint in the early morning hours of Feb. 6 at Kolekole Beach Park north of Hilo.
On Wednesday, Taylor was ordered to stand trial July 8 at 9 a.m. before Nakamura. He’s charged with first-degree robbery, auto theft, property damage and two counts each of unlawful imprisonment, second-degree theft and first-degree terroristic threatening. All the charges except property damage are felonies.
The victims, a man and a woman, both 29, were physically unharmed.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.