Nanakuli killing suspect already wanted on unserved DUI warrant
By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer
When Albert Birmingham allegedly killed a young woman with his car Sunday, a bench warrant for his arrest had been outstanding for more than six months after he failed to appear in court in a drunken-driving case.
Birmingham, 36, has been charged with negligent homicide in the death of Raelynn Aloha Adams, 20, who was allegedly struck by Birmingham's car at 3:05 a.m. Sunday in the drive-through lane of the Nänäkuli McDonald's restaurant.
When police arrested Birmingham, they also served him with an arrest warrant issued after he failed to appear for a court hearing on a Nov. 19, 2008, drunken-driving charge, court records show.
The warrant was ordered by a District Court judge on March 5, 2009, but wasn't created until June 3 and was unserved by law enforcement until Sunday, according to court files.
Delays in court processing of bench warrants and law enforcement's inability to serve tens of thousands of outstanding arrest warrants have been detailed in previous Advertiser news stories.
The state Judiciary is now operating an electronic warrants system that speeds the creation of arrest papers, but there is still an enormous backlog of unserved warrants because police and sheriffs say they do not have the manpower to handle them.
Court records show that Birmingham has at least one previous conviction for drunken driving, in 2004.
He also was convicted of criminal property damage in that case after he kicked out the window of a police cruiser.
Circuit Judge Karen Ahn sentenced Birmingham to serve 30 days in jail and complete five years of probation in that 2004 case.
Traffic Court records show that Birmingham's driver's license was revoked Nov. 26, 2008, after his arrest on the drunken driving charge.
Carol McNamee, of the Hawai'i chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, called Birmingham "a serious offender with a serious problem."
"The problem of backlogged bench warrants has been of great concern to MADD," McNamee said.
"We can't know for sure that if he had shown up in court (last year), or if he had been arrested earlier, that it would have prevented this new tragedy," she said. "But it just points out the seriousness of the problem."
Birmingham appeared in court Monday on the negligent homicide charge, and a District Court judge ordered him to appear at a preliminary hearing in the case today. He also is charged with fleeing the scene of an accident and failure to render aid.
Birmingham initially was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant, driving with a suspended license and having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle, as well as the outstanding bench warrant.
He was being held in lieu of $150,000 bail.
Witnesses told police that Birmingham was honking his car horn at a vehicle carrying Adams and others which was in front of Bir-mingham in the drive-through lane at McDonald's Restaurant.
Adams and a 15-year-old girl left their car after Adams' boyfriend became involved in a confrontation with Birmingham, police said.
Birmingham's car allegedly accelerated and struck Adams and the girl, according to police reports.