Judge delays trial of Kalaheo man

LIHU‘E — The jury trial of Sean Warner Rita came to a halt Tuesday in 5th Circuit Court.

During a bench conference, defense attorney Shauna Lee Cahill said a potential change of plea was reached, according to court minutes. She added that the defendant Rita appeared to be under the influence of intoxicants.

Rita, 33, of Kalaheo, was arrested on Sept. 15, 2011, on charges of intentional choking and abuse of a family or household member.  

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano questioned Rita twice as to whether he was of sufficient mind for the proceedings.

The minutes report that Rita admitted to being under the influence of alcohol and that he was not ready to proceed.

Valenciano scheduled a new hearing today. The judge also scheduled an April 16 trial date.

The jury was informed that the case may be settled before that date.

However, the jurors were excused with the understanding they might be recalled should it continue to trial in April.

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