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Attempted murder charge dropped against Kona man

KAILUA-KONA — Attempted murder and other charges were dropped against a Kailua-Kona man accused of assaulting a Big Island police officer earlier this year in what prosecutors called a racially motivated attack.

Shannon Kaleolani Ke, 32, was released from custody Friday after Kona Circuit Judge Robert D.S. Kim canceled bail set at $322,000. The move followed Kim’s dismissing the case without prejudice because prosecutors didn’t bring it to trial within 180 days.

Ke was detained at Hawaii Community Correctional Center since his arrest March 26 on charges of first-degree attempted murder with the enhancement of a hate crime, disorderly conduct, two counts of first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest in connection with an incident fronting Huggo’s On The Rocks in Kailua Village.

Trial was set for mid-January. However, because Kim dismissed the case without prejudice, the state can refile the charges.

“Absolutely,” said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chase Murray on Monday when asked if the state will again pursue the charges against Ke. “That’s why we argued so strong for a dismissal without prejudice.”

The matter came before Kim on Friday after Murray on Nov. 27 made a Hawaii Rules of Penal Procedure Rule 48 calculation and discovered the rule expired Nov. 28 — well ahead of the January trial. The rule states the court must dismiss a charge, with or without prejudice in its discretion, if trial is not commenced within six months from the filing of charges.

Deputy Public Defender Ann Datta, Ke’s court-appointed counsel, on Dec. 9 filed a motion to dismiss the case with prejudice, citing unconstitutional violation of Ke’s speedy trial rights.

According to her filing, 256 days lapsed since the indictment, with 67 of those days “excludable” for a mental evaluation conducted this summer. Based on those numbers, 189 days passed, “which is nine days over the time limit … .”

In arguing for the case to be dismissed with prejudice, meaning prosecutors would not be able to refile charges against Ke, Datta pointed to only one of the charges, the attempted murder charge, being a serious offense, the appearance of no justification for the delay other than failing to request to advance the trial date and the impact re-prosecution would have on the administration of justice by making the “consequences of a Rule 48 violation meaningless.”

Further, she wrote, “a dismissal with prejudice would further policy considerations to relieve congestion in the trial courts, to promptly process all cases reaching the courts and to advance the efficiency of the criminal justice process; this court should also conclude that the state caused unreasonable delay in this case, and that this unreasonable delay subverted the public good and disgraced the administration of justice.”

Murray said Monday that the responsibility for calculating Rule 48 falls primarily on prosecutors, though the state Supreme Court ruled that the court and defense also share responsibility.

“I didn’t think about all the time we’d burned through,” he said when probed about the discrepancy.

According to police and prosecutors, Ke assaulted Officer Randall Hancock on the shoreline fronting Huggo’s. Hancock and another officer responded to the eatery about 5 p.m. March 26 to a report of a disorderly man.

While making contact with the man, identified as Ke, a confrontation ensued resulting in Hancock and Ke tumbling into the water where the altercation continued. The officers were eventually able to take Ke into custody without further incident.

The officer allegedly assaulted by Ke was treated at Kona Community Hospital for contusions to his head and face as well as bruising to his legs. The hate crime enhancement was filed because Ke allegedly made disparaging comments about the officer’s believed race.

Ke pleaded not guilty to the offenses in April.

According to Murray’s Dec. 11 memorandum in opposition to Datta’s motion to dismiss the case, Hancock “suffered damage to spinal discs and lumbar spine, as well as continued headaches, memory lapses and possible brain damage.” Further, the officer remained on leave from the department and has been prohibited from operating a vehicle for medical reasons stemming from the incident.

Attempts to reach Datta were unsuccessful as of press time Monday.

Email Chelsea Jensen at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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