By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A woman who lived in a downstairs unit in Daniel Schuster’s Honomu house said Schuster told her two days before the fatal stabbing of Joshua Trickel that he and Trickel were selling household items to raise $3,000 they owed an Oahu drug dealer.
At a preliminary hearing Monday in Hilo District Court, Laura Serene testified Schuster said on July 20 that he and Trickel would be leaving for Oahu after selling the items. She said she last saw the 30-year-old Trickel alive at about 1 a.m. on July 22, when he came downstairs to inform her that he and Schuster would be moving furniture and cleaning upstairs.
Serene said that about 6 a.m. that morning, Schuster approached her while she was feeding her birds on a downstairs lanai and told her he needed her help upstairs and that “it was important.”
Serene went upstairs a couple of minutes later and saw Schuster “holding his wrist with a towel” and that she “saw blood on his leg and off his hand.” When she asked what had happened, she said Schuster told her that Trickel was trying to roust him out of bed and had stabbed him when he refused to get up.
“And did he say anything after that?” asked Deputy Prosecutor Shannon Kagawa.
“Yes, he said that he had then grabbed a knife that he had in bed and he stabbed him back. And then he said, ‘I think I killed him,’” Serene replied.
Serene said she then saw Trickel “laying in a pool of blood.”
“At that point, I kind of panicked; there was blood everywhere,” she said. “And so I told Dan to get the F over there and check the body, because I knew he had been a nurse at one time, and he had better understanding than I did. And when he stood — I just remember him standing there, I ran downstairs and called police.”
“… It’s all a blur. I just remember the blood,” Serene said.
Police Officer Ryan Domingo said that Trickel had “a knife in his left palm.” Under cross examination by defense attorney Stanton Oshiro, Domingo said he removed the knife from Trickel’s hand for his own safety because he didn’t know if Trickel was still alive.
Detective Nobert Serrao testified that he found a knife “about five or six feet away” from Trickel’s body and a kitchen knife with “about a 12-inch blade” on a kitchen counter. Another detective, Robert Almeida, described the knife near Trickel as a “carving knife” with a curved blade about eight inches long.
Detective Joel Field testified that Honolulu forensic pathologist Dr. Daniel Omori, who performed the autopsy, told him Trickel’s death was caused by a stab wound to the heart. He added that Trickel’s mother, Leslie Peters, said that Trickel was right-handed. Trickel’s family wasn’t present in court.
Serene said she had known Schuster for about 20 years and Trickel for about a year. She said Trickel and Schuster were “friends.” There was no mention of a possible sexual relationship between the two hinted at by police in a court document.
Judge Harry Freitas found probable cause to try the 49-year-old Schuster for second-degree murder and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, which police said were found in the home. He ordered Schuster to appear before Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 9 for arraignment.
Peters, who lives in Wisconsin, told the Tribune-Herald by phone that she was upset with how her son was depicted in the paper, saying that he was “not gay.” She said that she and her son were close, and that he had kept in contact with her. She noted Trickel’s former girlfriend, Sarah McCann, who at one time lived in the Honomu home.
“I know I sound like a mother who’s trying to make her son sound like an angel, and he was not. Joshua was an alcoholic and he had himself in and out of rehab, all the time,” she said. Peters described Trickel as “bi-polar,” said her son had met Schuster on Oahu, and became involved with crystal methamphetamine.
“He was vulnerable to Daniel as far as Daniel enticing him with drugs,” she said. “And that’s what Daniel did. And Josh was in a mess he couldn’t get out of. He called me and told me — and this was less than a month ago — that ‘if I don’t get out of here Daniel is going to kill me.’”
Peters said that her son, who had three older sisters, left Wisconsin 10 years ago to travel, backpacked across Europe, and eventually landed in Hawaii.
Nicki McCann, a sister of Trickel’s — and no relation to Sarah McCann — described her brother as “a mama’s boy,” and said that he and their mother would watch Green Bay Packers games together via Skype. She also described him as a “protector” to his sisters.
“Josh, as far away as he was, still backed us up,” she said. “If he thought for one minute that he thought any of us were going through something that wasn’t right, he was going to be the first one to rectify that, even from where he was. We always had faith that he’d be there for us. He had his issues, but he was a very, very good brother.”
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.