Trial set in Omao slaying

  • Peter Grewer

  • Bethany Freudenthal/The Garden Island

    From left: Stephanie Char, Peter Grewer, who stands accused of murdering his landlord in Omao last month, stands before Fifth Circuit Court Chief Judge Randall Valenciano Tuesday, as his trial date is set.

LIHUE — A jury trial was set in Fifth Circuit Court on Tuesday in the case against a man accused of the second-degree murder of his landlord late last month.

Peter Grewer, 62, wearing a fluorescent green Kauai Correctional Center jumpsuit, stood quietly as his trial was set for Nov. 5 by Chief Judge Randall Valenciano.

The Omao man stands accused of killing retired home economics teacher Joellen Hartman, 67, the week of June 18.

On June 19, police were called to a single-family home on Punee Road to conduct a welfare check, where they discovered Hartman’s body.

A preliminary investigation revealed Hartman died from injuries sustained as a result of an assault.

During a preliminary hearing in District Court on June 27, Dr. Martin Ishikawa, a forensic pathologist with Clinical Labs of Hawaii, testified that he conducted an autopsy on Hartman on June 21.

The autopsy revealed Hartman sustained multiple stab wounds and contusions during the attack.

The autopsy could not determine the date of death.

As a result of the autopsy, Ishikawa ruled Hartman’s death a homicide. The manner of death was certified as multiple, sharp forced injuries, he said.

Also testifying during the preliminary hearing was a witness, close to the victim, who lives in Australia.

The witness stated she received an email from Hartman on June 19 at 3 p.m. Australia time saying Hartman had taken Grewer to eviction court.

According to the witness, Grewer is alleged to have threatened Hartman twice the day of the eviction proceedings, once in the vehicle on the way to the hearing, and again, in front of the courthouse.

The witness stated Hartman’s petition for the eviction was granted and Grewer owed her money.

Representing Grewer Tuesday, Attorney Stephanie Char asked for a reduction in his bail, which was set at $1 million at the time of his arrest.

”Mr. Grewer is not a flight risk, he’s been a resident of this island since 1992, he does have significant ties, he does not have a criminal record as far as my information goes,” she said.

Arguing on behalf of the State of Hawaii, Prosecutor Sean Van Demark asked the court to keep the bail as is because according to the results of a bail study, it was found that Grewer was considered to be a high risk of none occurrence and recidivism because he does not have a verifiable address or source of income.

“He admitted to drinking alcohol on a daily basis and during intake the defendant reported withdrawal symptoms. Given the extent of what’s going on at the time in addition to the severity of the charge, I would ask that his bail remain at $1 million,” Van Demark told the court.

Valenciano kept bail at $1 million.

“The issue of danger to the community is something the court needs to factor in and based on the circumstances and the information that’s available to the court, the court will be denying the oral motion for reduction of bail,” Valenciano said.

If there are additional circumstances, Valenciano told Char the court will consider a written bail reduction motion.


Bethany Freudenthal, Courts, Crime and County reporter, 652-7891,

  1. LMat July 11, 2018 8:25 am Reply

    This guy was my neighbor in Kekaha a few years back and he is batsh!t crazy. He was on more than just alcohol, back then at least. He was threatening to me and my kids on at least a couple of occasions. Cops were at his house on numerous different occasions (I think he called them himself sometimes because he was paranoid “there were people hiding in his house”). He used to rent part of his house out but none of his tennants ever stayed very long.
    Hope he doesn’t get away with a laughable sentence, like so many other criminals on this island.

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