Red Eagles killer foundBy Debra Barayuga
guilty, may get life term
The family of a 25-year-old man slain in Waipahu nearly four years ago is relieved that his murderer won't be out any time soon.
A Circuit Court jury yesterday found James L.W. Kane III, 23, guilty of second-degree murder in the August 1997 shooting death of Larry Red Eagle, also known as La-huh-bate-soot. Kane also was convicted on three firearms charges.
Kane faces life with the possibility of parole when sentenced Aug. 25 before Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario.
"I believe it's La-huh-bate-soot's will that this guy not be free to hurt other people," said Ramona Bennett, Red Eagle's mother who flew in from Washington state with other family members for the trial. Red Eagle is a member of the Puyallup tribe in Tacoma.
The verdict was "consistent with the evidence and justice," said Honolulu attorney Mark Bennett who worked the case for free as a special deputy attorney general because of a possible conflict in the city prosecutor's office. "I hope it sends the message that if you commit a serious crime, you're going to be caught, tried, convicted and punished."
Bennett added that he expects the parole board to set a mandatory minimum term Kane must serve "that will protect society from James Kane for a very long time."
The jury rejected Kane's testimony that he shot Red Eagle twice in self-defense during an argument and after the older man made a lunge at him in the darkness just after midnight on Waipio Point Access Road on Aug. 7, 1997.
Kane had testified that he was upset over gang-related remarks Red Eagle had made, dredging up a past that he wished to forget. Kane was formerly a member of a rival gang but had grown tired of it, he said.
But it wasn't until he learned that Red Eagle had allegedly touched Kane's aunt inappropriately did he "snap" and decide to confront his friend. He said he brought along a gun because he wasn't sure if Red Eagle was armed.
Kane, who is part Navajo, testified he never intended to harm his friend, the first native Indian he had ever met.
He said it was instinct that prompted him to draw the gun and fire twice after Red Eagle swore at him and lunged toward him with his hand hidden near his waistband.