Rita back on trial calendar with new attorney

LIHU‘E — A Kalaheo man will bring his case to jury trial after all.

Sean Warner Rita, 33, was in 5th Circuit Court Thursday, just two-days following his trial postponement for appearing under the influence of alcohol. What was to be a motion for his attorney to withdraw from the case became a turn of events to continue the trial.

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano was ready to hear defense attorney Shauna Lee Cahill’s motion to withdraw. She stated that for her to continue as defense counsel would potentially prejudice the case.

Cahill had approached the bench Tuesday to say the defendant might wish to accept the change of plea. She informed the judge that Rita appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, which the judge later confirmed.

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

The jury was dismissed in the Tuesday trial, and a new trial date was set for April 16.

On Thursday, Cahill’s motion to withdraw was delayed as Rita considered the plea offer. When he decided to go forward with the trial, Valenciano approved Cahill’s motion to withdraw and appointed attorney Gregory Meyers as defense counsel.

The trial date was moved to May 7 to allow Meyers to prepare his case.

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