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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 12:29 p.m., Friday, January 23, 2009

Maui murder defendant's bail raised to $500K

Advertiser Staff

WAILUKU Bail has been increased to $500,000 for a woman charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing of her boyfriend earlier this month at their Kahului residence, The Maui News reported today.

At the request of the defense, 2nd Circuit Judge Shackley Raffetto ordered that Rachael Berta, 23, be examined by three psychiatrists or psychologists to determine her mental fitness.

She is charged with the fatal stabbing Jan. 5 of 33-year-old John Shaniyo. Responding to a 2 p.m. 911 call from a woman who said she had stabbed her boyfriend, police found Shaniyo lying in blood on the kitchen floor at 107 W. Kauai St. He was transported by ambulance to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where he died that night.

During her arraignment Tuesday in 2nd Circuit Court, Berta pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

Her bail had been reduced to $300,000 after a preliminary hearing Jan. 9 in Wailuku District Court.

But Deputy Prosecutor Melinda Mendes asked Tuesday for the higher bail amount. She cited Berta's violent background, including a previous conviction for violence against Shaniyo, as well as her mental health issues.

According to court records, Berta, who is also known as Rachael Kerry, was born in Virginia and has lived on Maui since 2006. She lived in Kihei before moving into the Kahului residence with Shaniyo about a year ago.

She has no recent history of employment and was convicted of drunken driving in October, according to court records.

While increasing Berta's bail to $500,000, Raffetto ordered her to turn over her passport to her attorney and to remain in the state if she is released on bail.

Berta is being held at the Maui Community Correctional Center.