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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 23, 2010

Suspect in beating of 85-year-old linked to Waikiki burglaries


By Mary Vorsino and Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writers

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Zachary T. Robinson

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Louis Kealoha

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Police say the 19-year-old man arrested late Thursday in connection with an attack in Wai'alae Nui that left an 85-year-old woman and her caregiver in critical condition was a suspect in several Waikīkī burglaries and was wanted on first-degree burglary charges.

Police have arrested Zachary T. Robinson in connection with the beatings. No other suspects are being sought.

Meanwhile, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha said yesterday that the Wai'alae Nui attack wasn't random. Police found dangerous drugs in the home where the beatings occurred at 1451 Halekoa Drive, but wouldn't comment on the motive in the attacks or how the suspect knew either victim.

Police also wouldn't say who the drugs belonged to.

"There is no reason to believe that this is a random act," Kealoha said in a news conference aimed at reassuring the public in the wake of the beatings and "relieve them of any stress or fear." Kealoha added that, "These types of crimes are very rare."

Robinson has no local address, and a woman at his mother's home in Kailua said yesterday she hadn't seen him in several days. The woman said she had heard he had been arrested, but didn't know that he had a connection to the Wai'alae Nui beatings.

The attack happened early Thursday. Police responded to Halekoa Drive about 3:30 a.m. and found Mary Lee Koskinen, 85, and her caregiver, 40-year-old Matthew Edmondson, severely beaten inside their home. The two remained in critical condition yesterday, Kealoha said.

CONCERN, RELIEF

The attack has left many along Halekoa Drive where violent crimes are rare stunned and concerned. Some expressed relief that police had arrested a suspect, though they also said they weren't surprised to hear the crime wasn't a random home invasion.

Dan Sallop, who lives three doors down from the Koskinen house, said that for the past five months or so people were coming and going at the residence at all hours. "A lot of people are there at all times of the night," said Sallop, who doesn't know Edmondson.

Some neighbors suspected the late-night activity might be drug-related.

Police would not comment on those suspicions because of the ongoing investigation.

Edmondson has no prior convictions. Neighbors said he has been Koskinen's caregiver for about 10 years.

Gabrielle Weightman, 17, who lives next door to the Koskinen home, said she had known Koskinen and Edmondson much of her life. For most of that time, the relationship had been typical of neighbors. She described Koskinen as friendly, though quiet.

Edmondson, she said, was a "really clean-cut guy, who liked things neat."

Lately, though, her family had become worried about the welfare of Koskinen, who, said Weightman, has dementia. "We were concerned because there were a lot of people coming late at night, like 3 o'clock in the morning," she said. "They'd come, they'd go."

Gary Hamada, 60, who lives on the street, said he's glad someone is behind bars.

Other than the attack, he said, the neighborhood "is pretty peaceful, nothing violent."

PRIOR ARRESTS

Robinson, the suspect, was picked up by police about 11 a.m. Thursday in Waikīkī on a bench warrant connected to the burglary of a Waikīkī apartment in November.

About 11 p.m. Thursday, he was arrested in connection with the Wai'alae Nui attack while still in custody at HPD's main station.

He faces one count of first-degree attempted murder and two counts of second-degree attempted murder, and likely will be charged this weekend, police said.

Court records show Robinson has six previous arrests, but no convictions.

Three of his arrests are for contempt of court.

Robinson, who was born in Florida but has lived in Hawai'i since 2005, was last arrested Nov. 4 on first-degree burglary charges, after residents of a Waikīkī apartment reported someone broke into their unit while the three were sleeping and stole $570 in cash and a $2,500 laptop. He was arrested after an officer recognized him and another suspect on surveillance video leaving the apartment building, court documents say.

Robinson was also a suspect in several other Waikīkī burglaries, the records show.

At the time of his arrest, Robinson told authorities he was homeless and had last worked at Denny's restaurant in Kāne'ohe as a dishwasher. He claimed no prior use of alcohol or drugs, but his mother, Chasen Robinson, reported that a female friend of her son's had given him crystal methamphetamine and that he was using the drug.

She said he had no medical or mental issues.

A bail report for Robinson said that the 19-year-old is a suspect in "several burglary and theft cases in Waikīkī and is associating with other suspects in the area." Yesterday, police wouldn't say how they linked Robinson to the beatings or how they found him.

After his arrest in the Waikīkī burglary case, Robinson was held on $11,000 bail.

On Dec. 5, though, he was placed on supervised release, with his mother to be responsible for him. Robinson was supposed to complete a substance abuse assessment and obey a curfew of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. He failed to appear at a review hearing Tuesday on his compliance with the terms of his release and a $50,000 bench warrant was issued.

Staff writer Jim Dooley contributed to this report. Reach Mary Vorsino at 221-8681.