Saturday, June 19, 1999

Man says he didn’t
mean to kill friend

Relatives of the victim are
sad but relieved to have
answers to their questions

By Debra Barayuga


A man accused of killing 25-year-old Larry Red Eagle nearly two years ago says he never meant to shoot his friend.

"It wasn't supposed to happen that way," James L.W. Kane III said in a videotaped confession to Honolulu police detectives, made four months after he initially denied involvement in the August 1997 slaying. "I went up to confront him, not cap him."

Prosecutors yesterday played the tape at Kane's jury trial, which continues next week before Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario.

Kane is charged with fatally shooting Red Eagle, a member of the Pullayup tribe from Washington state, on Waipio Access Road near the Ted Makalena Golf Course. He faces life with the possibility of parole if convicted of second-degree murder.

In his videotaped statement, Kane told police he tried to continue with his life as though the shooting never happened, but was unsuccessful.

"I lost a friend," he said.

Members of Red Eagle's family who flew to Honolulu for the trial, which began last week, wiped away tears as the tape was played.

"Where are all his (Kane's) friends now?" said Ramona Bennett, Red Eagle's mother and a native American activist, outside the courtroom. "Larry Red Eagle would have been there for him."

While it was awful to hear the alleged details of her son's last hours, Kane's account put some closure to many questions that had plagued family members, she said.

Red Eagle, born Lah Ha Bate Soot, met Kane in 1997 in prison. The two hit it off because Red Eagle was the first native American he had ever known, said Kane, who is part Navajo.

"We got that brown pride," he said.

In the videotape, Kane said the two met up again in Waikiki after Kane was released from prison on Aug. 5, 1997. When Red Eagle accompanied him to an appointment with his probation officer, Kane said he invited him to his aunt's Waipahu apartment for a meal and to relax before they returned to Waikiki.

When they later visited Kane's friends in Waipahu, Red Eagle later began drinking heavily and mouthing off, Kane said.

Red Eagle began "bashing colors," making comments such as "What's up, blood?" and swearing at him in front of his friends, Kane said. He said Red Eagle's comments awoke memories of Kane's past involvement with a rival gang, memories he had tried to put behind him.

Upset that Red Eagle had spoiled the evening, Kane told him to return to Waikiki without him and went home. But when his aunt revealed that Red Eagle had touched her inappropriately when Kane was in the shower, he snapped, he said.

Planning to confront Red Eagle, he sought a ride from a friend who supplied him with a revolver in case Red Eagle was armed, Kane told police. They found Red Eagle at a nearby Waipahu bus stop and offered him a ride to Waikiki.

With Kane's friend driving, they detoured to Waipio Point Access Road so he could confront Kane about the incident with his aunt. When they stopped near a bridge, Kane and Red Eagle jumped out to relieve themselves.

When Red Eagle turned toward him with his hand near his waistband, Kane said he fired once, then again as his friend fell to the ground.

"It was just instinct, impulse," he said.

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