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Teen driver in shooting to be tried as adult

The 17-year-old boy who allegedly drove the car from which multiple gunshots were fired near the Kapa‘a McDonalds in late June will stand trial as an adult, rather than as a juvenile, after his final appearance in 5th Circuit Family Court yesterday.

County prosecuting attorney Craig De Costa submitted a report that he said outlined eight compelling factors supporting a petition for a waiver of jurisdiction, and defense attorneys Daniel Hempey and Gregory Meyers conceded the point.

Judge Calvin Murashige said that his decision was “straightforward” and discussed factors such as the seriousness of the charges — first-degree attempted murder and other felonies — as well as the juvenile’s lack of mental illness and his proximity to the age of 18 before granting the petition and setting bail at $50,000.

Both De Costa and Hempey said they expected the minor to post bail yesterday and that his first appearance in District Court would likely occur in roughly four weeks.

Hempey said during the hearing that the primary reason for “not putting up a fight” was that he was afraid that he might win, which would keep his client in Family Court, where penalties are less stiff, but also in an O‘ahu detention facility that Hempey described as “subhuman.”

“It says something about that place that (the minor) would rather expose himself to possible life imprisonment than spend another day there,” Hempey said after the hearing.

Lihu‘e-based psychiatrist Gerald McKenna, one of three doctors specializing in mental health to testify last week that the minor should be released from the facility, said its conditions were “apalling” and “dismal,” and that he couldn’t believe that the state would house anybody there.

However, Murashige denied a motion that would have released the minor into the custody of his maternal grandmother, who had raised him since childhood, due in large part to the severity of the charges.

The minor was arrested on June 27, along with 26-year-old Taekyu U, of Kapa‘a, in the vicinity of Lydgate 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, 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.

U, who was seated in the passenger seat when the car was pulled over, pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree attempted murder, 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, reportedly a set of metal knuckles, at his July 31 arraignment in 5th Circuit Court and is scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 2.

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.

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

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