Cruelty trial for goat killing moved to September

An animal cruelty case is always of interest to the public and none more than the killing of a pet goat one year ago.

The trial was set to begin May 21, but was delayed this week to allow a defendant to apply for a public defender. The new trial date is scheduled for Sept. 22.

The two defendants, Russell Kekoa Ho‘omanawanui and Ryan Jacob Winchell, had a hearing Tuesday, which resulted in the continuance. A separate hearing for an interested party did not end in her favor.

Judge Kathleen N. A. Watanabe of the 5th Circuit granted Shauna Lee Cahill’s motion to withdraw as counsel for Ho‘omanawanui.

Cahill said motion was the result of financial hardships that resulted in his not being able to afford a private attorney. She said the hearing was the first time she saw Ho‘omanawanui.

Watanabe granted Ho‘omanawanui time to apply for assistance from the State Public Defender’s office. A status of counsel hearing is scheduled for May 22.

County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt represented the state. She did not object to the motion to withdraw but, for the record, objected to the motion to continue to the status hearing to ensure the time against speedy trial was charged to the defendant.

Ho‘omanawanui, 28, of Anahola, was arrested June 30 and charged with first-degree criminal trespass, livestock theft, second-degree theft, illegal placement of ammunition, unloaded firearm, first-degree criminal property damage, and cruelty to animals.

Winchell, 29, was arrested July 18 on the same charges.

Winchell is a resident of Las Vegas and appeared by phone, as did his attorney John Schum, who said if there is a change of plea that he would file by June 25.

Watanabe granted Schum request to continue the pretrial motions deadline until Aug. 10, and a pretrial meeting for Aug. 22.

In a separate hearing Tuesday, Watanabe denied a motion for the return of property that is being held as evidence in the case.

The motion was filed by Sara Saylor, who is not implicated or involved in the crime but her vehicle was somehow involved.

County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Samuel Jajich said it was unfortunate that Saylor does not have standing in the case but that the state would object to returning the evidence at this time

The judge recommended that is an interested party Saylor speak to an attorney and seek a civil remedy for the return of property. She said it was unfortunate that the case continues to be delayed but that she must hold the vehicle as evidence in the interim.

The goat belonged to Kilauea’s Kunana Dairy, owned by the Wooton family. According to reports at the time, a three-year-old pregnant and tame pet goat named Kaitlyn was disemboweled in May 2011. The goat was taken but her organs and two unborn kids were left behind in a Moloa‘a field.

Ho‘omanawanui was arraigned in circuit court on July 12. Winchell was arraigned on July 26.

Winchell was allowed to leave the state on $8,100 bail and return for required court hearings until trial. Ho‘omanawanui is free on $8,000 bail.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.

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