Evidence allowed in child-porn

LIHU’E — Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe is allowing to be used as evidence in a criminal case some digital images of child pornography seized when they arrived for an inmate at the Kauai Community Correctional Center in Wailua.

They arrived for Randall Honjo, a convicted sex offender now to stand trial for having 72 pictures of child pornography on computer diskettes.

Honjo’s attorney, Mark Zenger, filed a motion to prohibit admission of the diskettes as evidence, saying they were examined by KCCC officials without a search warrant. KCCC officials said they need to know what is coming in to their facility, so had to open and examine the diskettes.

Watanabe ruled against Zenger’s motion.

Honjo appeared before Fifth Circuit Court Chief Judge George Masuoka on Monday, when his trial was scheduled to start. However, he found out that his trial has been rescheduled.

In court, county Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn said that, at the last pretrial meeting, she and Honjo’s court-appointed attorney, Mark Zenger, were to come up with possible trial dates. However, because of her schedule, she was not able to talk to Zenger.

Zenger said in court that he spoke to Honjo since then, and informed Masuoka that they are not going to ask for a change of venue.

Masuoka scheduled a hearing on that matter for Thursday, Dec. 22. At that hearing, Winn and Zenger are expected to come up with a new trial date.

Honjo was convicted in August 2002 for sexually assaulting two of his daughters. The next month, he began serving five years behind bars.

In January 2003, according to court records, Honjo’s girlfriend found eight diskettes while cleaning Honjo’s Puhi townhouse. She opened two diskettes, and saw more than 20 pictures of young, underage females with adult males in various sexual activities.

She found the pictures to be revolting, and wanted them out of the townhouse. She decided to take the diskettes to officials at KCCC, where Honjo was incarcerated, according to court records.

At KCCC, a corrections official opened one of the diskettes, and came upon several folders that had the title “Lolita” on them. The official also saw other folders that had female titles, according to court documents.

Kaua’i Police Department officers were called, the diskettes were picked up, and used as the foundation for two child-pornography indictments that were filed against Honjo, in 2003 and 2004.

Honjo faces a total of 72 counts of second-degree promotion of child pornography. According to the indictments, he is accused of having pictures that show a minor engaging in or assisting others to engage in sexual activity.

In September, Zenger filed a motion to suppress as evidence the images. He argued in court papers that the prison official opened a diskette without a search warrant, and therefore the pictures should not to be allowed to be presented as evidence in the case against Honjo.

A hearing on the motion to suppress the pictures was held in October. At that hearing, KCCC Warden Neal Wagatsuma testified. He pointed out that the diskette was looked at because “we have to know what’s coming in.”

Honjo, a former harbormaster for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, testified at the hearing. He said the diskettes could have contained confidential information relating to his job as a health-insurance salesman, or information relating to his medical-supply business.

Zenger argued before Watanabe that Honjo’s constitutional rights did not get checked at the KCCC door. He stressed that Honjo should have a reasonable expectation of privacy while in prison.

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