Drive-by case juvenile remains in custody

The 17-year-old suspect allegedly driving the car from which shots were fired near the Kapa‘a McDonald’s on June 27 was denied release from an O‘ahu juvenile detention facility yesterday in Family Court.

The minor was arrested, along with Taekyu U, 26, of Kapa‘a, in the vicinity of Lyd-gate Park in a vehicle fitting the police dispatch description of one leaving the scene of the shooting just minutes earlier.

At U’s two-day preliminary hearing in District Court last month, Officer Vernon Scribner testified that he saw a labeled box of “CCI Blazer ammunition” in plain view between the driver and passenger seats, and Officer Charles Dubocage testified that he found a Lorcin .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol protruding from under the passenger seat.

Defense attorneys Daniel Hempey and Gregory Meyers argued yesterday that the juvenile was an unwilling accomplice in the incident who thought he was simply driving U to Lydgate Park and had no idea that he planned on shooting a gun.

Three doctors specializing in mental health testified before Judge Calvin Murashige that they examined the minor, whose identity can not be released to the public, in the weeks afer the incident, and recommended that he be released into the custody of his maternal grandmother, who has raised him since childhood.

Lihu‘e-based psychiatrist Gerald McKenna said that the conditions of the detention facility were “apalling” and “dismal,” and that he couldn’t believe that the state would house anybody there.

“It didn’t seem to me like he belonged there,” McKenna said.

Psychologist Patrick McGivern echoed those sentiments.

“It would be my opinion that the community does not need to be protected from him,” McGivern said.

Psychologist Robert Brown, who spent some three hours with the defendant on Friday, said that the juvenile was suffering from sleeplessness, increased acne, acute irritability and extreme anxiety due to his stressful experience at the facility. The juvenile, Brown said, is more likely to harm himself in the detention center than outside of it.

All three doctors agreed that the juvenile posed little to no risk of danger to himself or others, and was not a likely flight risk.

“He’s a good kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Brown, who discussed the details of the incident with the minor during their interview.

County prosecuting attorney Craig De Costa cited section 531-11, subsection 1(c) of the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, which says that the “severity of the violation or violations which the child is reasonably believed to have committed” is a factor in determining whether or not that minor should be in detention.

Furthermore, De Costa said, the minor would be safer from U, who is currently out on $250,000 bail awaiting his Sept. 2 trial and has a pre-existing relationship with the juvenile, inside the facility rather than in his grandmother’s care.

Murashige agreed in denying the motion, basing his decision not on the strength or weakness of the case against the minor, but on the seriousness of the charges.

Next week, the Family Court will hold a hearing regarding a potential waiver of jurisdiction to the 5th Circuit Court. De Costa said that he hopes to try the juvenile as an adult, while Hempey and Meyers hope to keep the case downstairs, where punishments are typically less severe.

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or via e-mail at mlevine@kauaipubco.com

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