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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, November 15, 2002

Hawai'i briefs

Advertiser Staff and Associated Press

Plea deal made in Big Island slayings

HILO, Hawai'i — One of two men charged in a double slaying on the Big Island has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder.

Kyle Hill said Wednesday in Circuit Court that he and co-defendant John McGovern fatally shot Wesley Matheson and Cassidy Toole in Puna on May 6.

Hill, 19, and McGovern, 20, had pleaded innocent to a charge of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory term of life in prison with no possibility of parole. Second-degree murder is punishable by life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.

Under a plea agreement with prosecutors, Hill agreed to testify against McGovern, who was set to stand trial May 19.

Matheson, 19, and Toole, 20, were shot at their home south of Hilo.

Enhanced sentence upheld in murder

HILO, Hawai'i — The state Supreme Court has affirmed a Big Island jury's finding that the 1999 killing of a 72-year-old woman was "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel."

The high court on Nov. 8 also affirmed Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra's sentencing of convicted killer Jefferson Pau to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the Hawai'i County prosecutor's office said yesterday.

An earlier jury convicted Pau, 26, in 2000 of second-degree murder, which carries a life sentence with the possibility of parole. That jury also found he was liable for the enhanced sentence of life without parole after deciding the killing of Itsuko Ito was especially heinous.

The Supreme Court set aside the sentence in 2001, saying Ibarra failed to tell the jury exactly what constitutes a heinous crime.

A new jury was empaneled and decided Pau should receive an enhanced sentence, which Ibarra imposed in November 2001.

Evidence showed Ito was stabbed at least 32 times while she tried to defend herself in her home in Kea'au, they said.

Man charged in hatchet threat

Police charged a 55-year-old homeless man yesterday with first-degree terroristic threatening after he allegedly threatened two people with a hatchet in the parking lot of a Ke'eaumoku Street restaurant.

Police believe Robert Prattella threatened a 22-year-old woman and 23-year-old man near 745 Ke'eaumoku St. at 3:45 a.m. The man fled when officers arrived but was captured about a block away, police said.

Prattella is being held on $30,000 bail.

Man critically hurt in Ka'a'awa crash

A 29-year-old man was listed in critical condition last night at The Queen's Medical Center after he was injured in an auto crash in Ka'a'awa Wednesday.

The man's vehicle struck a utility pole at 9:11 p.m. Wednesday, police said. The accident was on Kamehameha Highway near Swanzy Beach Park.

Burglars' dogs attack horses

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — While a group of burglars was stealing gear from a Paradise Ranch barn in Kilauea on Nov. 5, their dogs were attacking ranch horses, damaging one so badly that it had to be killed.

Police Chief George Freitas said four suspects have been arrested in the burglary case.

He said most of the stolen items, including saddles, tools and other ranch equipment, have been recovered.

Police are working with the Kaua'i Humane Society on issues surrounding the attack on the horses and the county's new dangerous-dog ordinance. The law provides for penalties when dangerous dogs are not restrained and attack humans or other animals.

Kaua'i Humane Society Director Becky Rhoades, a veterinarian, said all of the horses suffered multiple bite wounds, and one suffered a broken leg in the attack, an injury so serious the animal had to be destroyed.

Union leader's trial winds down

Closing arguments in the federal court trial against United Public Workers Union leader Gary Rodrigues and his daughter, Robin Sabatini, are scheduled to begin this morning.

Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Rodrigues and Sabatini had been expected to make their final remarks to the jury yesterday but spent most of the day instead working with federal Judge David Ezra on jury instructions.

Rodrigues is accused of including consultant fees in contracts he negotiated on behalf of UPW members for medical and dental insurance and then using the consulting fees, without telling union members, to repay a personal loan and channel money to Sabatini, who prosecutors claim did little or no work for the union.

The defense contends the government failed to prove its case against either Rodrigues or Sabatini.

Group pitches Waimea plan

About six dozen people crowded into the Hale'iwa Surf Center at Ali'i Beach Park last night to hear what the National Audubon Society had in mind should it get the nod from the city to manage the 1,875-acre Waimea Valley.

Diana King, project director for the society's proposed Waimea Valley Audubon Center, gave a slide presentation and answered questions.

The park is currently operated by Waimea Management LLC, which is competing for the management contract but declined to appear at last night's meeting.

King said the society would like to create a center that emphasizes restoration and education. And although she said the society expects tourists to make up the largest number of visitors, she said the target group would be residents.

"If it doesn't sound like it would appeal to a local resident, we probably aren't interested in it," she said.

Most who attended the meeting seemed pleased with King's comments.

"I liked what I heard," resident Chip Hartman said. "For me the highlight was that the target group will be local residents."

Group on watch for illegal signs

Members of the Outdoor Circle will be walking the streets of Kailua, Hale'iwa and Honolulu tomorrow pointing out illegal signs and providing information about Hawai'i's sign laws.

The group has dubbed the event Sign Law Awareness Day, which is a response to questions about the legality of the signs held by political candidates during the recent election campaign. Members will meet at 8:30 a.m. at Kailua District Park.

State law bans billboards and regulates off-site advertising as well as the sizes and locations of commercial signs.

To attend a walk or learn more about the sign ordinances, call 593-0300.

Water main in Wai'anae fixed

A water main break Wednesday evening that forced the closure of two lanes of Farrington Highway in front of Wai'anae High School was repaired by yesterday afternoon.

The 8-inch water main along Farrington Highway had ruptured at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.