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Mental exam ordered for man accused of ramming building with van

A 38-year-old Hilo man accused of damaging a building in the Kanoelehua Industrial Area with a rented van more than a year and a half ago will receive a mental examination to determine if he was legally responsible for his actions at the time of the incident.

John Lewis Kahana IV pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Hilo Circuit Court to two counts of first-degree property damage, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment upon conviction.

Judge Greg Nakamura granted a motion by Melody Parker, Kahana’s court-appointed attorney, for an examination of her client by a panel of three mental health professionals to determine penal responsibility — whether or not Kahana had the mental capacity at the time of the incident to appreciate the wrongfulness of his alleged actions.

According to court documents filed by police, witnesses said Kahana used the rented 2017 Dodge Caravan to plow through a closed metal bay door of the building at 215 Railroad Ave. owned by Bacon Universal.

While inside the building, Kahana rammed into and damaged sports equipment belonging to Da Program, also known as Big Island Wood Bat Academy, a teaching facility owned by prominent local baseball coach Kaha Wong.

Kahana also allegedly damaged a metal dividing wall between Wong’s business and a fitness gym.

An estimate by Ivan Mochida Contracting to Bacon Universal placed the cost of repairing the damage to the building at $50,000, while documents state Wong estimated damage to two pitching machines and other equipment at more than $30,000.

Wong, the father of Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals and Kean Wong of the San Francisco Giants, declined to comment about Kahana, his case or the incident.

A GoFundMe online fundraiser last year after the incident sought $30,000, and Wong noted the generosity “of parents and others in the community who believe I’m doing a good thing teaching young players.”

During Wednesday’s hearing, Parker said Kahana’s case was moved to Hilo Circuit Court after “a long stretch downstairs in District Court.”

On April 24, 2018, Kahana was found unfit to stand trial by Hilo District Judge Kanani Laubach based on doctors’ reports. Kahana was re-examined earlier this year, and on Oct. 8, Laubach ruled Kahana is fit to proceed.

No trial date has been set. Nakamura ordered Kahana, who’s free on conditional release, to return to court at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 7, 2020, for a hearing on the mental reports.

Email John Burnett at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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