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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 20, 2002

Man charged in Ala Wai death

 •  Writer Wyatt led simple life

By Brandon Masuoka and Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writers

A Waikiki man was charged last night with one count of second-degree murder in connection with the death of a 71-year-old man who drowned Tuesday after being shoved into the Ala Wai Canal.

Cline Kahue, 48, was being held last night on $100,000 bail. He is expected to make his first appearance in District Court this morning.

Kahue is accused of pushing Jack Albert Wyatt, a former Honolulu Star-Bulletin free-lance writer, down a 4-foot rock-and-concrete embankment into the canal and then assaulting two women along the busy sidewalk next to the waterway. Wyatt struck his head on rocks and drowned, the city medical examiner said yesterday.

Police last night said that charges against Kahue in connection with the attack on the women were pending further investigation. If convicted on the second-degree murder charge, Kahue will face a mandatory term of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

An affidavit filed in support of the charge detailed Tuesday's attacks:

A witness told police that she was sitting on the lanai of her 11th-floor Seaside Avenue condominium when she saw a large man shove Wyatt into the canal. Police identified the man as Kahue.

About three blocks away, the witness said she saw the man punch Consuela Aubin in the face.

Within minutes, the man "deliberately with a football blockinglike stance shoved Jessica Minder who was jogging ... into the Ala Wai Canal," the affidavit said. Minder and Kahue wound up in the canal, but the witness said Minder crawled out of the water and ran.

Kahue was arrested near Ala Wai Boulevard and McCully Street near the American Legion Hall after he tried to swim away from the scene, police said.

Kahue was acquitted of four assault offenses by reason of insanity in 1997 and also was involuntarily committed to The Queen's Medical Center in the 1990s.

Yesterday, Kahue's friends expressed disbelief and mental health doctors spoke about the dangers of stigmatizing all mentally ill people as violent following Tuesday's attacks.

"To me, the biggest point is, don't judge all people with mental illness based on this type of event," said Dr. Tom Hester, chief of the adult mental health division of the state Department of Health.

Court documents show that Kahue was charged with one count of misdemeanor third-degree assault in 1995 and four counts in February 1997. On July 18, 1997, Kahue was found not guilty on all charges by reason of insanity and was committed to The Queen's Medical Center, the documents show.

On Dec. 12, 1997, Kahue was granted a conditional release from the hospital, and court documents indicate he was complying with the terms of his release. On March 8, 2001, District Judge Leslie Hayashi discharged Kahue from the conditional release program, court documents show.

Hester said he couldn't discuss Kahue's case because of privacy laws, but said that he was aware of no other case involving any of the 250 people who have moved through the hospital system in the past five years on referral from the criminal courts, which had led to the death of another person.

About 4,500 people are receiving mental health treatment under state auspices in Hawai'i, he said, the majority of them in community settings.

"This is obviously a very sad, tragic situation and a very unusual one," Hester said. "And unfortunately, most people in America equate increased violence for people with mental illness. That just isn't the fact."

Hester said the majority of people with mental illness are never violent and are much more than likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator.

When contacted by The Advertiser yesterday about Kahue's mental history, Dr. Kenneth Luke, the medical director at Helping Hands Hawai'i, said he could not "confirm or deny" that Kahue had been receiving psychiatric services from the private, nonprofit agency.

Helping Hands Hawai'i has been running its service programs for five years, said Luke, adding the Kahue incident was a rare occurrence.

"I think the mental health community feels extremely sorry for the gentleman who died and the gentleman's family," Luke said. "There's an overwhelming majority of people with mental illness who live in our community who do not present a danger to others."

Ron Arnold, senior pastor at Kaimuki Christian Church, said Kahue regularly attended Wednesday Bible study at the church for about two or three years, and described Kahue as "quiet" and a "gentle man." Kahue had been through the mental healthcare system, Arnold said, and "we just loved him."

"I would speak with him and he was very gentlemanly," Arnold said. "Of course, I knew he was on medication. He just conducted himself with much dignity."

Arnold said Kahue did not exhibit any violent or unusual behavior, and that the congregation wants to support Kahue and would be with him in spirit.

"We'll be praying for Cline and the victim's family," Arnold said. "My heart goes out to Cline and his family, and certainly to the other families as well.

"I'm sure not a doctor, but I just think it had to do with the medications or lack thereof."

Bob Spearing, who leads the men's Bible study group on Wednesday nights, described Kahue as a "gentle giant."

"We would go through these workbooks," Spearing said. "He would do his lessons and he had an answer when we had questions. He liked being with the other guys, the fellowship, and he liked studying the Bible.

"He was very soft spoken, easy to get along with."

Staff Writers Walter Wright and David Waite contributed to this report.