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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 11, 2006

Man to spend up to 20 years in jail in 2004 drowning case

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer

A 23-year-old man was sentenced to a maximum 20-year prison term yesterday for the drowning of a man whose body was found in Honolulu Harbor in April 2004.

Faitele Faitele Jr., who was homeless, was originally charged with murdering Ruben Kimura, 25, also homeless. But Circuit Judge Richard Perkins last year in a nonjury trial found Faitele guilty of the lesser offense of manslaughter.

Kimura suffered blows to his head, which fractured his skull, but drowning was the cause of death, authorities said.

Faitele told police he and Kimura got into a fight because he thought Kimura was responsible for Faitele getting suspended from a shelter for smoking marijuana.

Faitele said he panicked and thought Kimura was dead when he dumped him into Nu'uanu Stream, according to his statement to police.

Faitele also admitted that he had drank three 40-ounce beers, police said.

Perkins imposed the 20-year term. The Hawai'i Paroling Authority will later decide how much time Faitele must serve before he is eligible for release on parole.

City Deputy Prosecutor Darrell Wong said he thought the sentence was "appropriate" because Faitele has not gotten treatment for his substance-abuse problems related to marijuana, crystal methamphetamine and alcohol.

Faitele would be released untreated if he received probation, because he has been in jail for more than two years in the case, Wong said.

Deputy Public Defender Walter Rodby said they were grateful that Perkins found Faitele guilty of the lesser offense but disappointed that the judge didn't place him on probation.

Rodby said Faitele apologized to the victim's family and never realized Kimura would die. The defense lawyer said his client does not have a prior felony record and was willing to undergo treatment programs.

Reach Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@honoluluadvertiser.com.