Driver indicted in deadly crash

LIHUE — The driver involved in a suspected drunken driving accident that took the life of a Kilauea man in March was arraigned on a nine-count felony indictment Tuesday in 5th Circuit Court.

James D. Monroe Jr., 51, of Kilauea, was charged with manslaughter, first-degree negligent homicide, second-degree assault, first-degree negligent injury, two counts of third-degree assault, reckless driving, inattention to driving, and operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant.

Monroe was the driver of a pickup that sideswiped a jeep before colliding head on with another SUV on Kuhio Highway, just south of Wailapa Road at 7:25 p.m. on March 4. 

The crash killed Samuel Mitzel, 29, and severely injured his passenger and father Keith Mitzel, 55, and injured the Jeep driver, Cathy Farley, 50, and her passenger Kaiulani Farley.

Monroe was also injured and was arrested upon his release from the hospital in March for negligent injury and negligent homicide. 

He appeared in court on Tuesday after posting $50,000 bail after the bench warrant for the criminal indictment was filed on June 12.

Private attorney Michael Soong is representing Monroe. 

The court granted Soong’s request that the prosecutor’s office preserve medical and forensics samples, for the defense to conduct it’s own independent examination of the vehicle and the defendant’s blood at the time of the collision.

County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Melinda Mendes presented the defense with 254 pages of documents. She also presented a CD with the recorded 911 calls, and a DVD of photos and witness statements from the investigation.

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano scheduled the trial date for Aug. 18.


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