LIHUE — A first-degree negligent injury case dating back to 2010 was dismissed by a 5th Circuit Court judge on Thursday for information that may have misled a grand jury indictment.
Chief Judge Randal Valenciano granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment, saying that the grand jury was presented with testimony that may have been misleading and influenced the decision of the jurors.
The judge denied the defendant’s request to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning the prosecution will be allowed to refile the case based on the severity of the charges.
Doreen Healani Kua, 52, of Eleele, was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, and inattention to driving on Nov. 14, 2010. The case was dismissed without prejudice in Kauai District Court on Feb. 22, 2011.
At issue on Thursday was the felony indictment that followed. It charges that the accident caused serious bodily injury to Ronel Supnet.
The grand jury received information that implied the victim had lost a toe in the collision of the vehicles. Witnesses for prosecution expressed the loss of a toe, when the prosecution learned later there was loss of bone in three toes, but no definite information on a complete severing.
County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Melinda Mendes, said that the grand jury wasn’t focusing on the toe issue, as much as it was the victim’s overall injury to his foot. The victim had skin graphing from his back to replace the skin that had been lost from his foot, she said.
Kua’s attorney, June Ikemoto, argued that the state waited two years before presenting evidence to a grand jury in April 2013. The time had expired to charge a misdemeanor again and so the state sought the felony charge.
At the very least, the prosecution should have learned the facts of the injuries by the time the case was presented to the grand jury, Ikemoto said. If the state felt the severity of the charges reached the threshold of a felony charge, then they should have pursued that course of action in the original case, she said.
Valenciano ruled that the prosecution was acting on the best information available at the time and that there was “no bad intent” with the information and no conspiracy existed to deceive the grand jury.
Mendes said that the prosecutor’s office would seek a new indictment or bring the case back through the felony information process.