Omao man accused of murder prepares for trial

LIHUE — A pair of bloody shorts and other items recovered from the home of an Omao man accused of stabbing his landlady to death will be admissible as evidence in his upcoming murder trial.

Peter Grewer, 63, is charged with second-degree murder for the death of Joellen Hartman, a 67-year-old retired teacher, who police found on June 19, 2018, “deceased in her home seated in a wheel chair with her head back with blood coming from her eyes, mouth, and nose,” according to court documents.

Grewer’s public defender sought to suppress evidence obtained as a result of three search warrants that allowed police to inspect the house Grewer rented next door to Hartman on her property on Pune‘e Road. That request was denied last week by the judge presiding over the case.

His trial is set to begin Feb. 24. Here are some of the details about events leading to Hartman’s death and the ensuing police investigation that have emerged in the battle over admissible evidence.

Grewer and Hartman were involved in a landlord-tenant dispute of some kind. On the day Hartman’s body was found, Grewer told police his landlady was evicting him and that they had been in court the day before, where a judge ordered him to vacate the premises within a week, according to court documents.

Prosecutors also say Hartman’s daughter got an email from her mother on the day she was killed, complaining that Grewer threatened her twice the previous day — first while she sat in her car waiting for a friend to lock up the house so they could go to court and again outside of the court building.

On the day of the murder, Grewer told an officer his friend had driven him to the eviction hearing, and after it was over, he fell asleep while waiting around with no ride. Eventually, Grewer said a sheriff woke him up, and he caught a bus back to the 7-Eleven in Lawai, where another friend picked him up and took him home.

The officer said Grewer told him that was the last time he saw Hartman, but according to an affidavit attached to the application for a warrant to search his home, Grewer later told a detective he spoke with her later that afternoon, around 3 p.m., when he said she gave him permission to use her car so he could move his stuff out.

The next morning, Grewer told police he went to the beach. When he returned home, he tried to yell to Hartman from the yard, “because they both have health issues and they normally call out to each other,” prosecutors wrote in a recent court memo, “but that day Mr. Grewer did not receive a response.”

Police showed up to perform a “wellness check” on Hartman later that day. When she didn’t respond, they forced their way into the house, and according to court documents, found her dead in her wheelchair.

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