‘Jumbo’ surfer gets reduced bail

LIHUE — One of the world’s top jumbo surfers, James “Jimbo” Pellegrine, is one step closer to getting out on bail after a Fifth Circuit Court judge said the state failed to include a “pertinent fact” in its closing statements during a grand jury proceeding.

Judge Kathleen Watanabe granted the motion for supervised release Tuesday, stating she had not even recognized the case from when Pellegrine was indicted because the state had not told the grand jury during its closing that Pellegrine’s arm had been severed below the elbow when it accused him of terroristic threatening in April.

The state had requested $50,000 bail, which Defense Attorney Michael Soong said was too high for a terroristic threatening charge. Pellegrine’s bail was reduced Tuesday to $25,000, which is $15,000 more than what Soong was requesting.

Watanabe was the judge who originally sat in on the grand jury proceedings when bail for Pellegrine was set at $50,000.

Pellegrine is charged with two felony counts of terroristic threatening in the first degree, a class C felony, for allegedly shouting at two ambulance workers as they transported him from the Hanalei police substation to the Wilcox Memorial Hospital emergency room following an accident involving his severed arm.

He is also charged with multiple traffic violations, which include DUI, reckless driving, inattention to driving and driving without a license.

Soong argued his client had been in an accident and was seeking help at the Hanalei police substation.

He said the deputy prosecutor who charged the case had erred during her closing statements because she told the grand jury that Pellegrine had allegedly cursed at two ambulance workers, but never mentioned that Pellegrine’s arm was severed at the elbow and was lying somewhere along Kuhio Highway.

“Curse words were used,” Soong said. “If you lost your arm, your honor, if anybody lost their arm, and were requesting pain medication, you may say some words you may regret later on.”

First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn argued Pellegrine had threatened the lives of two ambulance workers who were attempting to help him. He also threatened their families, she said.

“He said, ‘Once this is over, I’m going to put a bullet in your head …’” Winn said. “These are not simple, easy statements.”

“The fact that his arm was severed was mentioned in multiple court filings … so it is not accurate to say it wasn’t mentioned,” Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar told The Garden Island. “This defendant’s threatening words and conduct went very far beyond the realm of what our emergency providers should have to deal with when assisting those who need help.”

According to the state, Pellegrine was initially involved in a traffic accident, which caused his front hood to pop up and block his view of the road.

He drove his vehicle to the Hanalei police substation with his head and left arm outside the driver’s side window so he could see, according to court records. He then collided into oncoming traffic, thus losing his arm, the state said.

Once he made it to the substation, he requested help and was transported to the Wilcox ER. That’s where the allegations of threatening come in, Soong said.

Pellegrine is a recognized surfer and is known for surfing waves all over the world, Soong said. He’s considered one of the top five jumbo surfers in the world.

“I’m number one on that list, actually,” Pellegrine said.

It might be awhile before his client gets out of jail, Soong said. Although Pellegrine had his bail reduced Tuesday, he still has to post it, Soong said.

Pellegrine’s trial is set for March 28 before Judge Watanabe.


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