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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Trial begins in Ala Moana attempted murder

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer


A budding musician who thought he was being cheated out of royalties threatened to kill a former University of Hawai'i football player who had promoted his first compact disc and tried to make good on that threat, a city prosecutor said yesterday.

City Deputy Prosecutor Lucianne Khalaf said that on May 16, 2003, Aziel Toeaina went to the Mai Tai bar at Ala Moana Center at about 11 p.m., followed football player-turned-music promoter Tupu Alualu to a parking lot, and fired three bullets at him.

After three shots from the 9 mm semiautomatic handgun missed, Toeaina walked up to Alualu, aimed at his chest from point-blank range and tried to fire again. The gun jammed, Khalaf said, and bystanders were able to disarm Toeaina.

"He had told Tupu Alualu, 'The next time I see you, I'll kill you,' " Khalaf told the Circuit Court jury, as Toeaina's trial began before Judge Virginia Crandall. Toeaina is charged with attempted murder and firearms counts.

Toeaina's lawyer, state Deputy Public Defender Walter Rodby, gave a different version. In his opening statement, Rodby said the evidence will show that it was Alualu who shot at Toeaina and that Toeaina had gone to the bar merely to enjoy a night with his friends, some of whom worked there as bouncers.

Rodby said Alualu, a UH football star in 1993-95, had been at the bar for at least four hours and was "lounging around" with friends near the front of the bar when Toeaina arrived. He said Alualu essentially "false-cracked" Toeaina as he entered the bar, bruising Toeaina's jaw and cutting the inside of his lip and cheek.

At that point, Toeaina just wanted to go home, Rodby said. According to Rodby, Alualu was enraged because he believed that Toeaina was telling others Alualu had cooperated with federal investigators and "ratted out" Silila Malepeai, Alualu's business partner and a close friend. Rodby said Malepeai was later arrested for an undisclosed federal offense and is still in custody.

Rodby said Alualu followed Toeaina to the parking lot and fired the gun at him several times before it jammed and was taken away from him by his friends. He suggested that Alualu also was disgruntled because Toeaina had produced a second CD on his own, one that was much more successful than the first.