LIHUE – A plea offer made to a defendant facing numerous charges in two separate cases was rejected over the weekend. Additionally, a scheduled jury trial scheduled Monday for one of the charges was continued.
If accepted, the plea offer would have resolved both the theft case against Kalalau Valley man Cody Safadago, 47, that was scheduled to be tried this week, as well as the manslaughter/DUI case against him scheduled to be tried in late May.
Because the plea offer was rejected, both cases will be tried.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sean Van Demark told Judge Kathleen Watanabe Monday that over the weekend he received two new defense arguments via e-mail and photos via text messages that the defense wanted to submit as exhibits at the last minute.
The photos, Van Demark argued, would not be considered exculpatory evidence. Exculpatory evidence is evidence favorable to the defendant in a criminal trial.
“Late discovery, this would be unfair surprise,” Van Demark said. “The state would be prejudice, because it’s not adequately prepared to argue evidence provided on the eve of the trial, and it would prevent the state from fairly presenting an adequate prosecution strategy. This is not evidence that the defense could not have discovered earlier,” Van Demark said.
As for the new defense arguments presented to the state, Watanabe reminded defense attorney John Murphy of court procedures.
“Do you recall the court entertaining the state’s motion number one and the court’s ruling on state’s motion number one? This includes that the defendant and/or defense counsel is to inform the prosecutor or the court the nature of any defense which is to be intended to be used at trial,” Watanabe said.
The whole idea, she said, was that there wouldn’t be any surprises at trial.
“The whole point of pre-trial motions,” Watanabe said, “was to flush this all out before the trial, not when 50 jurors have already checked in, not when the Judiciary is going to be spending $1,500 for people to show up for nothing. The whole idea is to deal with this prior to the start of trial.”
The trial for the theft charges was continued to early May.
In late April, a 19-year-old Kapaa woman died after sustaining injuries in a head-on crash that occurred on Kuhio Highway fronting the Courtyards at Waipouli apartment complex.
Police say Kayla Huddy-Lemn was heading north at approximately 10:45 p.m. when an oncoming Nissan pickup truck crossed the center line, striking her Mazda sedan. After the impact, the truck continued south approximately 500 feet, until it came to a stop near Kintaro Japanese Restaurant.
Huddy-Lemn was transported to Wilcox Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Police say Safadago was driving the pickup truck, which he allegedly stole moments before the crash, then fled the scene on foot. He was later located near Wailua Shopping Plaza and apprehended following a brief struggle, and taken to Wilcox Medical Center for medical evaluation.
He was later transported to Kauai Police Department headquarters and arrested on multiple charges.
On May 15, according to eCourt Kokua, the state’s online court database, Safadago plead not guilty to manslaughter, recklessly causing death, negligent homicide 1, being involved in an accident involving death or serious injury,unauthorized control of propelled vehicle, resisting arrest, DUI (driving under the influence of an intoxicant), reckless driving, inattention to driving and driving without a valid drivers license.
Safadago’s jury trial for the manslaughter/DUI charges, according to eCourt Kokua, is currently scheduled for May 21.