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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 22, 2006

Defendant says he killed his friend in self-defense

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A man accused of stabbing his friend to death in May 2005 testified yesterday that he acted in self-defense because the former sumo wrestler was choking him.

Kealiiokalani Meheula took the stand in his own defense yesterday afternoon in Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto's courtroom, which was packed with family and supporters of Meheula and the victim.

Meheula, 31, is charged with one count of second-degree murder in the death of Percy Kipapa, 31, who was stabbed multiple times on May 16, 2005, in a pickup truck in Kahalu'u. Kipapa, a former sumo wrestler in Japan, was found slumped over the wheel of the pickup on Okana Road.

If convicted, Meheula faces a mandatory term of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Meheula has never denied that he stabbed his high school friend. But Meheula testified yesterday that the larger Kipapa had commandeered Meheula's father's truck and was choking him while they argued in the truck.

Meheula said he had no option but to defend himself.

"I thought I was going to die," Meheula testified yesterday. "I couldn't speak. I couldn't breathe."

Meheula said he grabbed a knife and swung three times at Kipapa. He said he had just used the knife to order Kipapa out of the truck.

After stabbing Kipapa, Meheula said he got out of the truck and ran

"I was scared. I was in shock. I can't believe I just done that, stabbed Percy," he testified.

Meheula said he ran up Okana Road to a home where his mother was. He said he and Kipapa earlier dropped off Meheula's mother at the home, a known drug house.

The city medical examiner's office has said that Kipapa tested positive for methamphetamine. Meheula's mother testified this week that Kipapa had asked her to help him get drugs.

Meheula said he had the bloody knife in his hand when he told his mother that he had just stabbed Kipapa. But when she asked him why, Meheula yesterday said he didn't remember his response.

Earlier this week, however, a prosecution witness testified that Meheula said soon after the stabbing that Kipapa was stealing things from him and fooling around with Meheula's girlfriend. A witness also said that Meheula told her that he had done the right thing.

Meheula was arrested the next day after he was treated for a stab wound to his leg at Castle Medical Center. Meheula testified yesterday that he suffered the injury while running with the knife.

Kipapa and Meheula had been friends since they attended Castle High School, and Meheula said he never intended to kill Kipapa when the two got together that day.

"I considered Percy one of my best friends," he said.

At the close of his questioning, defense attorney William Domingo asked Meheula how he felt about the stabbing. Meheula broke down and sobbed for about a minute and was unable to answer.

This morning Meheula will be cross-examined by Deputy Prosecutor Glenn Kim.

Meheula remains free on $150,000 bail.

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.