A man accused of attempted murder and second-degree assault in connection with Friday night’s stabbing incident in Hanalei’s Ching Young Village appeared at his preliminary hearing yesterday.
Aerial Star, 23, known by his nickname “Oki,” looked on as two of those who received injuries in the incident and a pair of Kaua‘i police officers were questioned by Prosecuting Attorney Craig De Costa.
Lauren Criswell, 24, of Hanalei, testified that she had dated Star until roughly three months ago and obtained his iPod as collateral for a payment made on the truck he now drives.
On Friday at about 9 p.m., Star approached Criswell while she sat on a bench near the dumpsters in Ching Young Village, and asked for his iPod. According to Criswell, when it wasn’t given to him, Star reacted angrily and pushed Ta-Vina Butac, a close friend of Criswell’s.
“I reacted like she’s my sister and I threw a punch,” said Criswell, who claimed the swing struck Star “in the face.”
Patrick Coan was pricing products in the stock room above a business, The Back Door, and heard “excessive screaming and profanity.” He recognized Butac’s voice as his girlfriend’s, and went downstairs to diffuse the situation.
According to Coan, he and Butac, 31, of Kapa’a, encouraged Star, an “acquaintance but not a friend,” to leave the area. Star responded by telling Coan, “Don’t touch me,” before punching him two to four times.
The well-built Coan then pushed the much slighter Star to the ground and punched him, by his own account, “in the back of the head.” Butac came over to “help subdue (Star)” when a bystander screamed, “He’s got a knife. Get away.”
Coan said that he saw a “three- to four-inch blade on a folding knife with a matte black finish” in Star’s hand pressed to Butac’s midsection. Coan attempted to wrestle the weapon away from Star, and only in the aftermath did he realize that his arm had been “opened up inside the left elbow” and that his “whole body was covered in blood.”
A bystander told Coan that he had also been “hit in the back,” and another offered his belt to be used as a tourniquet for the freely bleeding arm. Coan said that his back felt “hot and wet” and that he sat down when he began to feel light-headed.
Criswell had stayed near the altercation until it became apparent that Star had a weapon, she said. At that point, she rushed in to try to separate Butac from the fighting men, and when the four became disentangled, Star flailed his arms and “accidentally” cut Criswell.
“Unfortunately, I was in the wrong place,” she said.
When Officer Mike Marshall arrived on the scene in the parking lot on the Big Save side of the complex, three females were standing in the fruit stand area waving at Star and identifying him as the stabbing perpetrator.
Marshall noticed that Star’s clothing had blood on it, but that Star was uninjured. When asked, Star told Marshall that the knife was on the sidewalk, but Marshall did not see it. Star was largely cooperative as he was placed in custody in the back seat of the squad car, but spoke to the officer without being questioned.
According to Marshall, Star said, “They were all trying to get me. I swung one, two, three times. I cut him.” Marshall called his supervisor and more officers were dispatched.
Detective James Kurasaki spoke with Dr. Erik Schu- macher of Wilcox Memorial Hospital’s emergency room immediately after Coan had been admitted. Officer Kurasaki testified that Schumacher had told him that Coan’s injuries included, “One stab wound to the left side of the chest which could be life-threatening and a deep cut to the left arm.”
Coan underwent emergency surgery and spent five nights in the hospital before being released yesterday just hours before the hearing. He wore a heavy bandage covering his entire left arm and appeared shaken by the ordeal. The life-threatening status of the chest injury is the impetus for the attempted murder charge.
Criswell’s injuries were limited to a five- to six-inch laceration on the left forearm that, according to her, required butterfly stitches. The second-degree assault charge refers to Star’s alleged attack on her.
Fifth Circuit Judge Trudy Senda found that the state met the burden of probable cause for both charges, and set the next hearing for June 3, at 8 a.m. Star will remain in custody as his bail was set at $500,000 at Monday’s arraignment.
Meanwhile the preliminary hearing for a second stabbing-related attempted murder case, stemming from the May 15 Fujii Beach incident, was continued to June 4.
Joshua Sesco, 29, of Kapa’a, will spend the interim in prison with bail set at $500,000 as defense counsel Dan Hempey and First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Bridges hammer out details of an agreement.
• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com