Wednesday, January 10, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Retrial still pending in Army pilot's death

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

A retrial for one of three men accused of killing an Army helicopter pilot in Waianae more than 2 1/2 years ago is scheduled to begin Feb. 27 — even though federal prosecutors have not decided yet whether to retry Keala Leong on murder and attempted burglary charges.

A federal court jury last month found two other men — Roberto Miguel, 20, and Bryson Jose, 22 — guilty of murder, attempted burglary, attempted robbery and firearms charges related to the killing of pilot John Latchum Jr. in June 1998 at the Waianae Army Recreation Center.

Leong, 21, was acquitted of the two attempted robbery charges, and U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor declared a mistrial when one of the 12 jurors said, after a guilty verdict against Leong on murder and attempted burglary charges was read in court, that she no longer believed Leong was guilty.

If convicted of murder, Leong faces a mandatory term of life in prison without parole.

Under federal law, the government has 70 days to say whether it intends to retry a criminal defendant when a mistrial is declared.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Johnson told federal Magistrate Barry Kurren the government was requesting a new trial date for Leong to assure that 70-day deadline was met. Kurren scheduled the trial for Leong to begin Feb. 27. Johnson said after the hearing that a formal decision has not been made yet on whether to retry Leong.

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