KAILUA-KONA — Jury trial for three of the defendants accusing of aiding suspected cop killer Justin Waiki is set to get underway next month.
Krystle Ferreira, Malia Lajala and Jorge Pagan-Torres are set to stand trial Sept. 10 at the new Keahuolu Courthouse in connection with the July 2018 murder of Hawaii Police Department Officer Bronson Kaliloa in Puna.
The two women and man are each charged with two counts of first-degree hindering prosecution, first-degree attempted murder and place to keep pistol or revolver. Lajala faces an additional charge of third-degree promoting a dangerous drug.
The new jury trial date was set Thursday after the state’s case against Ferreira, Lajala and Pagan-Torres was separated from a fourth defendant, Jamie Jason, late last month. The four had been set to go on trial June 27 before Kona Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim, however, arguments over appeals and jurisdiction delayed the matter.
Jason faces two counts of first-degree hindering prosecution, first-degree attempted murder and place to keep pistol or revolver, and two firearms offenses, ownership or possession prohibited fugitive.
The severance of Ferreira, Lajala and Pagan-Torres from the case came after prosecutors appealed a June 18 decision by Kim that suppressed statements made to police while Jason was in Hilo Medical Center with a gunshot wound inflicted during Waiki’s deadly encounter with police on July 20, 2018.
Prosecutors that same day filed a notice of appeal to the Intermediate Court of Appeals of Kim’s order suppressing Jason’s statements.
On July 19, as Kim moved forward with severing Ferreira, Lajala and Pagan-Torres from the case to proceed with trial, prosecutors sought relief from the appeals court via a motion to instruct Kim to suspend all Circuit Court proceedings in the case amid the appeal.
Prosecutors even petitioned for a writ of mandamus on June 25 to the supreme court. A writ of mandamus is an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion — in this case, that Kim retained jurisdiction over proceedings.
The high court considered the petition, and denied it without prejudice on July 18 deferring to the appeals court as the proper avenue for decision. That denial without prejudice allows the state to refile the writ.
A second petition to the high court on July 29 was denied, meaning the court would not consider it. The judges noted in their order dated Tuesday that the petition appeared to seek identical relief as the June 25 petition, adding that “a writ of mandamus is not intended to serve as legal remedy in lieu of normal appellate procedures.”
Also Tuesday, the Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled on the motion for instructions, determining the appeal of the suppression order is only stayed, not the case proceedings. The Circuit Court, however, “may proceed on other, collateral matters.”
The appeals court has yet to issue a ruling on the appeal of Kim’s order suppressing Jason’s statements. A motion to continue trial for Jason was granted in June, and a status conference is set for December.
Jason, Ferreira, Lajala and Pagan-Torres are accused of assisting Waiki while he was running from authorities after reportedly shooting and killing Kaliloa in Mountain View on July 17, 2018. Kaliloa, a 10-year veteran of the department, died shortly after midnight, July 18, 2018.
Jason along with Ferreira, Lajala and Pagan-Torres were with Waiki when he was caught by officers on July 20, 2018. They were traveling together on South Point Road when they were stopped at a police checkpoint.
During a search of the vehicle, Waiki was found hiding in the back with Jason. Waiki shot at officers, and police returned fire. Waiki died from gunshot wounds. Jason also suffered a gunshot wound and one officer was injured. Both have since recovered.
Three other defendants charged in connection with the incident, Kyle Brende, Mokihana Veincent and Taumi Carr, were severed from the case early on to be tried separately. They faced lesser charges than were filed against Jason, Ferreira, Lajala and Pagan-Torres.
Two are awaiting sentencing and trial has been pushed back for the third suspect.
Recently, Brende pleaded guilty to first-degree hindering prosecution and will be sentenced Aug. 26.
Veincent also changed her plea, pleading guilty to first-degree hindering prosecution earlier this month. Her sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 16.
Carr is charged with two counts first-degree hindering prosecution. On Tuesday, Kim granted a defense motion to continue trial to allow time for Carr to complete “treatment.” Trial is now set for Dec. 10.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald