Accused bank robber waives prelim hearing

LIHUE — A man who police say robbed First Hawaiian Bank waived his right for a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Norman Akana Jr. appeared before District Court Judge Michael Soong on second-degree robbery and second-degree theft exceeding $750 charges to continue a preliminary hearing, where the state had intended to call six witnesses.

But his attorney, Melinda Mendes, filed a motion to waive his preliminary hearing, which was to determine if the Prosecutor’s Office has enough evidence to go to trial.

By waiving the hearing, the case can proceed to trial.

Akana Jr., 42, is accused of walking into First Hawaiian Bank on Rice Street just before 10 a.m. on May 4 and demanding money from a teller.

The teller testified during a preliminary hearing Monday that Akana Jr. came up to his window with a brown paper bag and a note saying “have gun, please fill.”

He said he put bundles of hundreds, fifties, twenties, fives, tens and ones into the bag.

Akana Jr. fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash and was arrested that night at home in Niumalu. He remains at Kauai Community Correctional Center on $150,000 bail.

On Thursday, Soong made sure Akana Jr. knew the rights he was giving up by waiving the preliminary hearing.

He is scheduled to return to court May 30 for another hearing, this time in front of Judge Kathleen Watanabe.

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