Neighbor Island briefs
Man guilty in son's death
HILO, Hawai'i A National Guard employee charged with beating his 9-year-old son to death has pleaded guilty to reduced charges of manslaughter and will face a possible 20-year prison term when he is sentenced Oct. 29.
Derek Waki Sr., 30, entered the plea Tuesday instead of going to trial on second-degree murder charges.
He had confessed to the slaying to police detectives last year following the Aug. 23, 2000, death of his son who died from a brain hemorrhage at a Honolulu hospital.
Derek Waki Jr., had been abused throughout the day before he died, police said. He was not allowed to eat or go to the bathroom prior to the fatal blows in an incident former prosecutor Lincoln Ashida described in written court proceedings as "especially heinous and atrocious."
Waki, represented by a deputy public defender, told Judge Greg Nakamura he would not challenge a proposed doubling of his sentence from 10 to 20 years for the crime.
Kuulei Mahina Lehua Kane, the father's live-in girlfriend, faces related second-degree murder charges for her alleged role in the slaying. The woman's trial has not been scheduled. She has been free without any bail to have a child.
Experts called to repair signal
KAHULUI, Maui Department of Transportation engineers from O'ahu are due on Maui today to figure out how to fix a malfunctioning traffic signal that has been causing traffic jams for more than a week.
The trouble with the traffic signal at the intersection of Haleakala and Hana highways is believed to be linked to a widespread Aug. 15 power failure caused by lightning, said DOT spokeswoman Marilyn Kali. The problem is with the vehicle detection and timing instruments, which have been letting only a handful of vehicles through at a time on a green light.
The result, especially in the morning rush hours, has been miles-long traffic tie-ups.
Maui royal rite set for heiau
PAUKUKALO, Maui An investiture for the Aloha Festivals' Maui royal court will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Hale Ki'i/Pihana Kalani Heiau.
Members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha, the Ka'ahumanu Society and Hale O Na Ali'i will witness the ceremony.
This year's court features Lennie Pokipala as the mo'i kane (king) and Doreen Ululani Spencer as mo'i wahine (queen).
A full slate of Aloha Festivals events will begin Oct. 13 with the Ku'u Home O Wailuku ho'olaule'a, followed by festivities throughout the month.
Bird disease wanes on Maui
WAILUKU, Maui An outbreak of avian botulism that caused the death of dozens of endangered birds on Maui is apparently over, state wildlife officials said.
State wildlife biologist Fern Duvall said a search Monday of the 240-acre Kahana Pond State Wildlife Refuge found no dead birds. "It's a real good sign," he said. "We did a real good search."
Since the outbreak was detected in early July, 34 endangered birds were found dead, including 10 koloa, or Hawaiian ducks.
Avian botulism kills birds that eat toxins that likely come from fish. The toxins are produced by a bacteria that thrives in environments associated with rotting plant or animal matter.
Duvall said the dead birds were removed and brackish water was pumped into the pond to increase circulation and decrease the chances of botulism.
The last outbreak at Kahana was in 1997, when hundreds of birds died.
Energy-friendly homes touted
WAIMEA, Hawai'i A workshop will be held tomorrow on how to design energy-efficient homes that do not require air conditioning.
The Hawai'i Energy Extension Service will conduct the event from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Thiebaut's Restaurant in Waimea. The other sponsors are the U.S. Department of Energy and the American Institute of Architects' Honolulu Chapter.
The $15 fee covers both lunch and a copy of the new "Field Guide for Energy Performance, Comfort and Value in Hawai'i Homes." For more information, call (808) 933-0312.