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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 7:43 p.m., Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Judge rejects Pali golf course shootings plea deal

Advertiser Staff

A federal judge today balked at approving a plea deal reached by the government with convicted murderers Ethan "Malu" Motta and Kevin "Pancho" Gonsalves.

Under the deal, Motta and Gonsalves, convicted of the gunshot murders of two men at Pali Golf Course in January 2004, avoided mandatory terms of life in prison because each man purportedly provided "substantial assistance" to government investigators.

But U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway said the only cooperation the defendants provided was to enter guilty pleas just before the case was scheduled to go to trial in February.

In fact, the plea deals said specifically that Motta and Gonsalves would not cooperate with investigators and would not testify against other defendants, Mollway said.

Without more information about the supposed cooperation the men provided, Mollway said, she could not approve the government's recommended sentences of 27.5 years in prison for each defendant.