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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 4, 2002

Nightclub patron convicted in death

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

A Circuit Court jury deliberated for about a day and a half before finding a Mililani man guilty of manslaughter yesterday in the October death of a Kapi'olani Boulevard nightclub bouncer.

Tony Kwak, 22, will face either 20 years in prison or five years probation with up to a year in jail when he is sentenced by Circuit Judge Michael Town July 24.

Kwak was originally charged with second-degree murder in the death of bouncer Robert Cullen on Oct. 6 at Venus Nite Club.

City deputy prosecutor Barry Kemp said during trial that Kwak was at the club with some friends when one of them got into a fight. Cullen was called to restore order and was holding a man in a headlock when he was kicked "football-style" once in the chest by Kwak, Kemp said.

Cullen let go of the man and fell back against a wall, Kemp said. His heart was "vibrating uselessly" as he fought to remain conscious, Kemp said.

Cullen, 50, could not be revived and died early Oct. 6 at Straub Clinic and Hospital.

But deputy public defender Debra Loy maintained it was a case of mistaken identity. She said Kwak was at the club but was trying to break up the fight.

Loy said Kwak wound up defending himself and was scuffling with another man when he turned and saw the mortally injured Cullen on the ground.

During the fight, Loy said, Kwak kicked a man who was about to punch his friend. But Loy said the man was not Cullen and the kick was to the man's knee.

Kemp asked that Kwak be held without bail while awaiting sentencing but Town denied the request and allowed Kwak to remain free on $145,000 bail.

Reach David Waite at dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8030.