A 21-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting an elderly woman in 2019 at a South Kohala campground was guilty Wednesday on all counts filed in the case.
The seven-woman, five-man jury found Zeth Browder guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual assault, two counts of third-degree sexual assault, first-degree burglary, kidnapping and tampering with evidence following a three-day trial.
Browder, who was 18 years old at the time of the incident was accused of sexually assaulting a then 78-year-old woman as she slept in her tent at Spencer Beach Park campgrounds on June 15, 2019.
First-degree sexual assault and kidnapping are Class A felonies punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment; first-degree burglary is a Class B felony that carries a 10-year sentence; and third-degree sexual assault in a Class C felony punishable by five years behind bars. Evidence tampering is a misdemeanor offense.
Browder silently sobbed as each guilty verdict was read and the jury polled.
Deputy Public Defender Jimmy Greenberg said after the verdict was read that Browder looks forward to his appeal.
“The jury didn’t pay attention to the evidence,” he said.
Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Yamamoto said she was thankful for the jury’s consideration of the evidence and thoughtfulness in deciding the case.
“I am happy for the victim getting justice and hope she can rest better tonight,” she said.
The Honolulu City and County Prosecutors Office was litigating the case due to an undisclosed conflict of interest with the Hawaii County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.
After the jury was dismissed, one of the jurors said it was the hardest decision he has had to make.
“If he didn’t do it, we are sending him to hell. If he did do it, we gave the victim justice. It was an impossible decision,” he commented.
Browder has been in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center since his arrest June 15, 2019.
Sentencing is set for Feb. 25, 2022, before Kona Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald