Big Island man pleads guilty to shotgun slaying
By John Burnett
HILO — A Keaukaha man pleaded guilty Wednesday to the shotgun slaying of his sister's common-law husband.
In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Desmond Lewi, 33, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, carrying or possessing a loaded firearm on a public highway, and prohibited possession of a firearm.
Lewi was originally charged with second-degree murder for the Oct. 5, 2008, killing of Cameron Mauga, 33, of Keaukaha. The shooting took place at Puhi Bay in Keaukaha.
Police have still not recovered the shotgun used in the homicide.
Lewi faces up to 30 years in prison when he's sentenced May 19 at 8:30 a.m. before Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura. He could have received a life sentence if convicted of murder.
Mauga was the younger brother of popular island entertainer Russell Mauga, who was not in the courtroom Wednesday. Several of the slain man's siblings were present, however, as was Russell Mauga's wife, Kehau LeeHong-Mauga, who said her husband was at his day job at Hilo Medical Center.
Lewi's wife, Laira, was sitting behind her husband and his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Melody Parker.
"Is it true that on Oct. 5, 2008 ... you recklessly caused the death of Cameron Mauga?" Nakamura asked.
"Yes," Lewi replied.
Nakamura ordered Lewi, who's free on $50,000 bail, to turn himself in to authorities on April 21.
Mauga's sister, Maka Mauga Kaili, said afterward that it's unfair that Lewi can still go home to his wife and children while Cameron Mauga's and Dorie Lewi's children will never see their father again.
Family members had said that a disagreement over a children's game of pogs at a family beach outing escalated into the deadly confrontation between Lewi and Cameron Mauga.
"We may never know what the true reason is for our brother's death, but we've left it in Akua's (God's) hands," Kaili said. "I'm just glad we're finally moving forward. Our family is holding our heads high."
Relations between the Maugas and the Lewis have been acrimonious since the slaying. In August of last year, District Judge Harry Freitas granted mutual restraining orders to Laira Lewi and three Mauga siblings, Kaili, John Mauga and Brandy Mauga. The injunction is effective for three years.
"All parties agreed to mutual restraining order," Freitas' decision read.
Deputy Prosecutor Kanani Laubach said there would be no comment on the plea deal until Lewi is sentenced. Parker also declined to comment.
Kaili asked, rhetorically: "What kind of message does this send out?"
"You can go out and shoot somebody and get rid of the weapon and request for a reduction in bail. You get that, and then you get offended when you get bad looks," she said. "Then, you make requests for extension upon extension so the defense team can get their work together to defend you. Then, time goes by and you decide to plead to a lesser charge. And then, you are given that, too. And you still leave those who are hurting unanswered questions. We'll never know the truth or the reason why. But as of October (2008), it was pogs.
"We hope and pray for some kind of closure."