Hearing scheduled for attacker

LIHUE —An Eleele man accused of beating a monk seal at Salt Pond Beach, an incident that sparked massive public outcry statewide, will have his preliminary hearing next week.

Shylo Akuna, 19, appeared before Fifth Circuit Court District Judge Trudy Senda Wednesday to begin his preliminary hearing and hear testimony from witnesses, including two Department of Land and Resources Enforcement DOCARE officers who investigated the alleged beating.

It was rescheduled to March 12 to allow his defense attorney more time to review the case with his client.

Through tears, Akuna agreed to the request to continue the hearing one week. Four witnesses were asked to return.

Akuna is charged with taking a monk seal prohibited, which is a class C felony, disorderly conduct and unreasonable intoxication in the May 2 complaint for the April 26 incident in which he is said to have confronted a well-known pregnant Hawaiian monk seal named RK30 and attacked her, according to witnesses and a video that went viral on Facebook and worldwide shortly after the event.

One witness told officers she noticed Akuna “throwing sand and screaming at the seal,” according to court records.

The seal started “barking” and “trying to bite the guy,” while Akuna was allegedly trying to punch the seal swinging his fists, records showed.

He then allegedly chased the seal into the water, records showed.

Prior to the incident, the “large monk seal (was) sleeping on the sand.”

Officers arrested Akuna on April 28 about 2:30 p.m.

Akuna is being held on $20,000 bail at the Kauai Community Correctional Center.

If Akuna is convicted of the class C felony, he can face one to five years in prison and may have to pay a fine up to $50,000.

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