Manslaughter verdict returned in Big Island shooting
By John Burnett
HILO — An Ocean View man who police and prosecutors say shot an intruder while guarding his medical marijuana has been found guilty of manslaughter.
A Hilo Circuit Court jury also convicted 49-year-old Kevin Metcalfe of using a firearm in the commission of a separate felony.
The jury returned the verdict yesterday after about seven hours of deliberation over two days.
Metcalfe was originally charged with second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence. The jury, however, ruled that the May 6, 2009, shotgun slaying of Larry Kuahuia was reckless rather than premeditated.
Both the manslaughter and firearms convictions carry possible 20-year prison terms. Metcalfe will be sentenced by Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra at 9 a.m. March 25 in Hilo.
"Justice is served, and I was not surprised by the verdict," said Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville.
Metcalfe's attorneys, William Reece and Vaughan Winborne, argued that Metcalfe was defending himself against Kuahuia and should have been acquitted.
"Obviously we're disappointed but we respect the jury system," said Reece.
Added Winborne: "I was always worried about manslaughter for two reasons. One, because it could be a compromise, and two, the evidence is just stronger for that than for murder."
Damerville said he didn't think the verdict was a compromise.
"The fact is that Mr. Kuahuia shouldn't have been up there in the first place, but his conduct did not justify shooting him in the back, so the verdict was not unexpected. It was based on the evidence," he said.
Ibarra granted Damerville's request to revoke Metcalfe's $100,000 bail. Metcalfe is in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.
Kuahuia, 44, of Milolii, had a lengthy criminal record, including five convictions for felony burglary, two for felony theft and one for sex assault. Jurors did not hear Kuahuia's criminal history.
Tom Martin of Ocean View, who described Metcalfe as his best friend, said he was "kinda stunned" by the verdict. He said it sends a message to burglars that Ocean View is open territory "because we can't shoot ya."
"We get home invasion on a weekly basis; we get burglaries day-by-day," he said. "What should we do? Just lay here out on the road with our throats up so they can just cut 'em? ... ”
His wife, Denise, echoed those sentiments.
"If we don't have the right to protect our property, we're sittin' ducks, 'cause if the law ain't gonna back us, who is?" she said.