New attorney in Omao murder case

LIHUE — The defendant charged with the murder of an elderly neighbor on New Year’s Day in Omao, has a new trial date and a new attorney.

Giovanni Lictawa Corpuz appeared in 5th Circuit Court on what was to be his second-degree murder trial date on Monday. This original trial date was April 21, and then June 23, before it was continued on Monday to Feb. 23, 2015.

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano granted the motion for a new trial date and for the State Deputy Public Defender John Calma to withdraw his office from the case for a potential conflict of interest.

Calma said he had represented a witness at one time and did not believe it would require the office to withdraw from the case. The court asked Corpuz, who preferred an appointed private counsel.

Lihue attorney Michael Soong was appointed by the court to defend Corpuz.

County First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Takata did not object to either motion. The defendant waived his right to a speedy and public trial at the first continuance and time against the right to a speedy and public trial was not charged to the state.

Corpuz, 41, appeared in custody with court interpreter Felipa-Felina Garduque, who assisted him in his first language of Ilocano, a dialect of the Philippines.

Corpuz is accused of shooting and killing 88-year-old Amby Cruz of Omao in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day. He was arrested in Taiwan, while en route to the Philippines on Jan. 10.

Valenciano denied bail for Corpuz in February. He continues to be held at Kauai Community Correctional Center. Corpuz is also charged with carrying or using a firearm in the commission of a separate felony. If convicted, the state is seeking a life sentence for inflicting death or serious injury on a person ages 60 or older.

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