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Victim: Church didn’t approve of relationship with defendant

<p>JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald</p><p>Joseph Amormino Sr. listens to testimony during his trial for attempted murder on Thursday in Hilo Circuit Court.</p><p>Shooting victim June Shirshac listens to a question during testimony on Thursday in Hilo Circuit Court.</p><p>JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald</p>

By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

The victim of a non-fatal shooting in Panaewa on Mother’s Day 2012 testified Thursday that the man accused of shooting her left his church because the church didn’t approve of his relationship with her.

June Shirshac spent a second day on the witness stand in the attempted murder trial of Joseph Amormino Sr. The 73-year-old Amormino, a retired Hawaii Community Correctional Center guard, is accused of shooting Shirshac, a Walmart greeter, four times in the early evening of May 13, 2012.

It was the second day on the witness stand for the 57-year-old Shirshac, who was hospitalized for about four months after sustaining gunshot wounds to both legs and to her right hand and shoulder. She remains wheelchair-bound.

Under cross examination by Amormino’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Ebesugawa, Shirshac testified that Amormino was a member of the Mormon church when they started dating in April 2011.

“Isn’t it true, ma’am, that Mr. Amormino left the Mormon church while you and he were having a relationship?” Ebesugawa asked.

“Yes, he did,” Shirshac replied.

“And the reason was the church didn’t approve of extramarital relations?”

“I don’t know the reason.”

“Is it your testimony that Mr. Amormino did not tell you that they disapproved of the fact that he was having an intimate relationship with you and this was against church teachings?”

“Yes, he did tell that to me.”

Deputy Prosecutor Mike Kagami said in his opening statement that Amormino had been drinking and was angry when he drove from his Hawaiian Beaches home to the Auwae Road house where Shirshac lived with her ex-husband, Francis Makaiwi, with whom she had remained friends. Shirshac had earlier testified that Amormino sped into the driveway and got out of his pickup truck brandishing a handgun. She said that Amormino had repeatedly said “you’re not effing leaving me” before shooting her and attempting, unsuccessfully, to shoot Makaiwi, who was hiding in a bathroom inside the master bedroom.

Ebesugawa hammered away at apparent inconsistencies between Shirshac’s courtoom testimony and two interviews with Honolulu Police Sgt. Nancy De Foster conducted on May 14 and 15, 2012, while Shirshac was in The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu.

“Isn’t it true that … you told Francis Makaiwi to run?” he inquired.

“I did,” Shirshac answered.

“And isn’t it true that you told Francis Makaiwi to run because Joe Amormino is crazy?” Ebesugawa queried.

“No. I said run because he has a gun,” she replied.

“Isn’t it true, ma’am, that … you told Sgt. De Foster that you told Francis Makaiwi to run because Joe is crazy?”

“I can’t remember the conversation, sir.”

“… Isn’t it true that at no time in your … interview with Detective De Foster that you ever mention that Joe Amormino told you ‘You ain’t effin’ leavin’ me’?”

“I don’t remember that, sir.”

Ebesugawa’s opening statement and cross-examination painted Shirshac as a greedy opportunist who took advantage of an elderly widower who lavished money, much of it borrowed, mainland trips and gifts — including an engagement ring — on her. Shirshac previously testified that she was never in love with Amormino, but wore the engagement ring and led him to believe she would marry him, even though she had no intention of doing so.

Shirshac had broken off the relationship with Amormino on a return flight from Atlanta two nights before the shooting, although she testified that she considered the relationship over weeks earlier and never considered Amormino her boyfriend.

Amormino faces charges of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of second-degree attempted murder and numerous other charges. If convicted of first-degree attempted murder — a charge he faces because the state alleges more than one intended victim — he faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. He remains in custody in HCCC, unable to post $656,000 bail.

The trial resumes Monday at 10 a.m. in Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara’s courtroom.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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