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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Maui woman's troubles escalated, records show

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau

WAILUKU, Maui — The victim of Friday's police shooting in Pa'ia was a troubled mother of three whose life apparently was spiraling out of control, according to court records.

Lisa K. Tomita Kaina
The police record of Lisa K. Tomita Kaina, 27, also known as Lisa Tomita and Lisa Naeole, goes back to 1996, but most of her problems appear to have escalated in the past year or two, during which she was the subject of numerous arrests, accusations and convictions involving drug possession, stolen vehicles and contempt of court violations.

Last year she served at least three months in Maui Community Correctional Center after a conviction for stealing a pickup truck and possessing burglar's tools and crystal methamphetamine. Then she failed to show up for a Sept. 10 drug test required of her probation and had her supervised release revoked.

Her problems came to a violent conclusion Friday when she was shot and killed by a police officer. According to police, she was driving a stolen 2004 Cadillac and trying to get away when she was hit in the head by a single bullet, fired by an officer whose life, police said, was endangered by her erratic driving.

Some witnesses said the officer, whose name has yet to be revealed by police, was not in immediate danger.

Family members acknowledge that the woman had some troubles, but they don't understand why she had to die that way.

Sonia Cantero, Kaina's aunt, said the family is grieving and hurting but angry and asking a lot of questions.

"The main question is 'why?'" Cantero said. "Why did he have to shoot her that way? Why didn't he shoot her (car's) tires? She was already cornered in — where was she going?

"It's so sad. Nobody deserves to die that way."

Acting Lt. Jamie Becraft would not answer any questions about the case yesterday, saying only that the investigation is continuing. A press conference is scheduled for tomorrow, he said.

Kaina's services are scheduled for Thursday night. A scattering of ashes will take place the next day at Pa'ia Beach Park.

Cantero said Kaina was a good girl growing up in Pukalani, the only girl among four siblings.

"With three brothers, she was a tomboy. She was protective of her (two) younger brothers," she said.

Kaina graduated from Maui High School and lived in the same house for about 25 years. She was married for seven years before separating from her husband at the beginning of last year. She was a stay-at-home mother of two girls, 8 and 3, and a 6-year-old boy. The children are staying with relatives on Maui.

Kaina was a sweet person and good mother before she got involved in drugs a couple of years ago, family members said.

But court records suggest her recent behavior took a bad turn. The records include accusations of drug abuse and physical abuse, and that she may have been a victim of physical abuse from her husband and that she had also abused her children and mother.

In 2002, the state Child Protective Services agency began conducting an investigation of the family after Kaina's mother obtained a temporary restraining order to keep her daughter away from the Pukalani home.

The mother wrote that Kaina was using drugs and being violent to herself and her children. Kaina's eldest daughter was so afraid of her mother that "her little body shrivels up in a ball out of fear," the mother wrote.

"Lisa is using drugs, and I know this to be true," she wrote. "She leaves the children to fend for themselves while she sleeps all day and becomes violent with the children and myself when she does get up."

In June of that year, Kaina came home in violation of a court order. After her mother got on the phone to call police, she cut the phone line, according to a court document.

Later in June, Kaina was accused of stealing a Toyota pickup truck from a Makawao residence. Two weeks later police officer Darrell Ramos spotted her at about 2 a.m. at a Pukalani gas station and followed her on foot. She bolted into the street, where Ramos grabbed her shirt. She broke free, but Ramos tackled her. A plastic bag of crystal methamphetamine popped out of her shoe.

In December, Maui Circuit Court Judge Joseph Cardoza sentenced her to five years' probation on drug charges and for stealing the truck, after a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Reach Timothy Hurley at (808) 244-4880 or thurley@honoluluadvertiser.com.