Drive-by shooting suspect trial set

Drive-by shooting suspect Taekyu U pleaded not guilty to all charges, including first-degree attempted murder, at his arraignment in 5th Circuit Court yesterday and will stand trial on Sept. 2.

However, O‘ahu-based defense attorney Michael J. Green said that he would likely not be ready to proceed at that time, and would be filing paperwork waiving U’s right to a speedy trial.

The case will likely be continued at least one time to allow both Green and deputy prosecuting attorney Mauna Kea Trask, who will be handling the case according to county prosecutor Craig De Costa, to go through evidence.

Yesterday marked U’s first appearance in Circuit Court. Previously, he had faced a two-part preliminary hearing in District Court where three Kaua‘i Police Department officers and four eyewitnesses testified about the events of June 27.

Officer Vernon Scribner testified that he saw a labeled box of “CCI Blazer ammunition” in plain view between the driver and passenger seats after performing a traffic stop near Lydgate Park on a vehicle fitting the police dispatch description of one leaving the scene of the shooting at the Kapa‘a McDonald’s just minutes earlier.

Scribner said he placed both the driver, a still-unidentified minor, and passenger, identified as U, in custody.

Officer Charles Dubocage, the next on the scene, testified that a combination of streetlights, spotlights, headlights and his flashlight allowed him to see the rear of a gun protruding from under the passenger seat from his position near the front fender and side-view mirror.

Green grilled the officers on the position of the gun, trying to determine if Dubocage’s description of its location as being “under” the passenger seat in his report meant that it was totally obscured from plain view.

The line of questioning could be critical to a potential defense motion to supress the evidence at trial.

Both prosecution and defense attorneys said after the preliminary hearing that they expect results of ballistics and gun powder residue tests to illuminate other facts of the case soon.

In addition to the attempted murder count, U is also facing charges of carrying or use of a firearm in commission of a felony, unlawful place to keep ammunition, unlawful place to keep a pistol, and possession of a prohibited deadly weapon.

The gun allegedly used in the attack was a Lorcin .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol, and the prohibited deadly weapon reportedly in his possession was a set of metal knuckles.

According to Kaua‘i County Correctional Center records, U is no longer in police custody. County spokesperson Mary Daubert announced previously that bail had been set at $250,000.

It remains a possibility that the minor could be tried as an adult accomplice in the case. Proceedings pertaining to juveniles are handled in Family Court and are closed to the public.

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