New lawyer in murder case

LIHUE — A Princeville man accused of attempted second-degree murder will have a new attorney as he continues to wait for the results of mental fitness examinations for trial.

Kyle Matthew Welch, 27, was in 5th Circuit Court on Thursday, where his attorney’s motion to withdraw was granted. Mark Zenger had been appointed on Nov. 6, following a conflict of interest from the state Public Defender’s office.

Defense attorney Craig Decosta was appointed by the court to represent Welch.

Welch, who appeared in court with a shaved head, was arrested Jan. 9, for allegedly using a machete to injure a 42-year-old man, and threatening another at Anini Beach. He was indicted for attempted second-degree murder and first-degree terroristic threat.

The trial is April 21 and bail is set at $750,000.

Here’s a roundup of other court cases this week:

– A Kapaa man who was convicted of stealing a bicycle was given probation and a year in jail on Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court.

It wasn’t just a recreational bicycle, said County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney George White in court. It was the sole source of transportation for its owner and worth $2,000.

“This is embarrassing for me,” said the defendant, Duwayne Nelson Bagano. “I want to apologize to the community, to my family and to the people.”

The theft occurred on May 22. Bagano, 51, was arrested on charges of third-degree theft and two counts of criminal contempt of court on May 30. The criminal complaint in June amended the charge to second-degree theft with the value of the bicycle over $300. Bagano was also charged with fourth-degree criminal property damage for cutting the bike lock.

The court placed Bagano on HOPE (Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement) for close supervision of high-risk offenders. He was given one year jail, the maximum allowable for a class C felony. He was also give an order for restitution and must complete substance abuse and mental health assessments.

– A Kilauea property owner who said he lost 40 trees to a neighbor’s contractor error has filed for $500,000 in damages.

According to the Dec. 4 complaint, Kauai Makai General Manager Jim Beyer noticed in July that more than 40 mature ironwood and plum trees were destroyed on their side of the hillside property that adjoins the neighbor, Kim Ta. A barbed wire fence marks the line between the properties on Koolau Road.

Beyer allegedly contacted the neighbor and spoke with Paul Nguyen, who said that a tree cutter had been hired but apparently did not know the fence marked the property border. The civil complaint holds Nguyen and Ta responsible for any negligence of the tree cutter and for the cost of restoring the property.

The complaint charges trespassing for entering the property with the intent to cut down the trees and destroy their fences without consent. It also alleges a charge of nuisance, liability and conversion for the wrongful destruction of the property. The complaint also charges unjust enrichment as the cutting down of the trees resulted in improved views for the Ta property at the expense of Kauai Makai.

– A 2012 Halloween accident that resulted in injuries to a Kapaa woman has landed in 5th Circuit Court.

Beatrice and Henry Hashimoto filed a civil complaint Dec. 8 against Tsutao Morioka, 74, of Lihue.

It states that Beatrice, 79, was in the right, rear passenger seat of a car driven by her son, Jeff Hashimoto, 51. The car was traveling southwest on Rice Street in Lihue when Morioka’s vehicle exited suddenly from Dani’s Restaurant parking lot entry into Rice Street and collided with the passenger side the of Hashimoto vehicle.

The impact caused Beatrice to be thrown to the other side of the vehicle, causing injury. Her husband, Henry, 81, was the front seat passenger.

The complaint charges Morioka with negligence as the proximate cause of the collision. It seeks medical, rehabilitative, and other related expenses incurred and in the future.

– A whisteblower and retaliation civil case filed a year ago against Kauai Community Correctional Center will go to trial.

Carolyn Ritchie, a former psychiatric social worker at KCCC, is suing the jail facility, along with Warden Neal Wagatsuma and the Department of Public Safety. The complaint filed in January alleges violations of the whistleblowers act, unlawful retaliation and harassment during her employment period from April 2009 until November 2012.

Trial was set for June 22.

Ritchie, who has a master’s degree in social welfare and over 45 years of experience in social work, claims she was fired after complaining to superiors about inappropriate violations and constitutional rights abuses of inmates.

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