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State briefs for December 20

Trial underway for former Maui police officer accused of DUI

WAILUKU, Maui — A former Maui police officer was “beyond drunk” before his pickup truck sideswiped a parked car and crashed into a utility pole, witnesses testified.

The trial of 28-year-old Mousa Kawas began earlier this month in Wailuku District Court with witnesses saying the former officer had spent the night drinking before crashing in February, The Maui News reported Tuesday.

Kawas has pleaded not guilty to charges of DUI, reckless driving, inattention to driving, lack of due care, and leaving the scene after striking a vehicle or property.

A group of police recruits celebrating a birthday ran into Kawas at a bar in Kihei Kalama Village, officer Andrew Szczepan told the court. The group that included Szczepan went to another bar, where Kawas later showed up more intoxicated, he said.

“I went and talked to him to see if he was OK,” Szczepan said. “At that time, yes, I thought he should have stopped drinking.”

The recruits and Kawas stayed at the bar until closing. Szczepan said he did not think Kawas could safely drive, noting he hadn’t seen the officer more intoxicated than he was that night.

A white truck with its headlights off pulled out of a parking lot and smashed into a cement pillar, Merriette Harp told the court. The truck continued driving and almost hit her vehicle before sideswiping a parked vehicle, she said. She called 911.

“I almost got hit, my truck almost got hit,” Harp said. “That was pretty shocking.”

Kihei resident Huali Borges told the court she heard a crash. She then walked outside to see the truck smashed into a fence and a utility pole with a transformer.

As of Nov. 30, Kawas was no longer employed by the Maui Police Department, police said.

Army Corps of Engineers proposes danger zone off Guam

HAGATNA, Guam — The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed creating a new surface danger zone that would restrict boat traffic along Guam’s northwest coast when a firing range is in use.

The zone supporting the military’s small arms firing range at Finegayan would extend about 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers) from shore and about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from end to end, the Pacific Daily News reported Tuesday.

Vessels would not be allowed to stop or loiter in the zone when the range is in use, according to the proposed rule published in the Federal Register. Boats would be allowed to quickly travel through the zone, but the commander of Naval Base Guam would be allowed to restrict passage.

“The danger zone is necessary to minimize potential conflicts between local populace activities and ongoing military training in the subject area,” the proposal stated.

The military plans to display a red flag during the day and use a strobe light at night when the range is active. It also plans to post lookouts.

“When the range is not in use, the danger zone shall be open to normal maritime traffic and all activities to include anchoring and loitering,” the proposal states.

The military is planning to improve and expand the existing small arms firing range at Finegayan as the Marine Corps relocates to Guam.

“This location is an existing range and meets all of the landside requirements of a small arms range,” the proposal states. “With limited land on the island, it is not feasible to have the firing range and safety zone completely on land.”

The U.S. government is taking public comment on the proposal until Jan. 14.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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