Thursday, April 15, 2004

Micah White, shown here being brought into the HPD main station cellblock on April 6, is scheduled to be arraigned in Circuit Court on Monday.

Kailua fire,
victim dies

The woman's nephew will now
likely face a murder charge;
his mother also might die

Sharon White, whose nephew allegedly stabbed her and set her and the family's Kailua home afire April 5, died of her injuries late yesterday at Straub Clinic & Hospital.

Micah White, 20, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday morning in Circuit Court on charges stemming from allegedly stabbing his aunt and his mother, pouring gasoline and possibly kerosene on them and then setting fire to the house, which was destroyed.

White's mother, Kerry, was transferred to a mainland hospital over the weekend and was in surgery at the time of yesterday's preliminary hearing, said Deputy Prosecutor Richard Stacey. Her husband, Samuel, and oldest son, Kawika, were with her on the mainland "because her condition has deteriorated," Stacey told the court.

As of yesterday, White was charged with two counts of attempted murder in the second degree, one count of attempted murder in the first degree and one count of criminal property damage in the first degree. In light of Sharon White's death, he might now face a charge of murder. White faces life without parole if convicted of first-degree attempted murder and life with parole if convicted of second-degree attempted murder.

Fire Capt. Glenn Solem testified yesterday that he tried to talk to the two women as they lay in the ambulance. He said Sharon White opened her eyes, pulled her oxygen mask from her face and said: "Micah, my nephew. Micah did this to us."

At those words, Micah White, who had been quietly crying at the defense side of the table, slumped, bowing his head over his hands held in a prayer position.

About 10 witnesses testified for more than two hours yesterday. Judge Faye Koyanagi ruled there was enough evidence to send the case to Circuit Court for trial.

During most of the testimony, White sat hunched in his chair, wiping his face with tissues. He either leaned his head against his hands that were clasped as if praying or held his head in his hands. Eight friends sat nearby.

Honolulu police Detective Theodore Coons testified that doctors who treated Sharon White told him she had multiple lacerations to the left side of her head and deep lacerations to both hands and forearms. He said the wounds were consistent with being stabbed and fending off her attacker.

In addition to a fractured nose and a collapsed lung, White had burns to 55 percent of her body, especially her upper torso, he said.

Coons, testifying before it was known White had died, said doctors told him there is "a substantial risk of death."

Andrew Chong, an ambulance driver who treated the two women, said they smelled strongly of gasoline and that the vapors filled the ambulance, making him feel sick. He said he could smell gas every time Kerry White exhaled.

Dr. Thomas O'Callaghan, a trauma surgeon at the Queen's Medical Center, testified that he treated Kerry White, who was burned over 80 percent of her body. He said she had been stabbed twice in the left side of the chest and once in the front of her neck. He said he also treated her for a collapsed lung. O'Callaghan said White has "a high risk of dying."

Homicide Detective Coons also testified that Kerry White called her husband on his cell phone about four times that day. Samuel White has a pool-cleaning business and was working with Kawika in Honolulu that day.

Coons said that during the afternoon Kerry called asking her husband to come home because "Micah was tweaking." Coons did not describe what she meant. "Tweaking" is often used to describe the irritability of people using crystal methamphetamine, or "ice."

Coons also told the court that as Samuel White was driving home, Kerry called him a last time and said: "You need to come home. Micah is standing in front of me with a rolling pin."

Coons testified Samuel made one stop on the way home and arrived there 20 to 35 minutes after his wife's last call. By then the house was engulfed in flames, and the two women were in a neighbor's yard, said Coons.

Jessika Rajkawski, a teenage girl, testified that she was walking with two friends toward Kailua Beach that night. She noticed smoke in the sky and saw a man "completely covered in blood or a red liquid" come running toward them and the beach. She said she watched as the shirtless man jumped into the ocean still wearing his jeans and shoes. She said he was in water up to his chest. When he came back on shore, she said, the blood was gone.

Rajkawski said the man, whom she identified as Micah White, then took off his jeans, socks and shoes and walked away wearing long dark shorts.

Rajkawski called police, who found the discarded clothes on the beach. A police criminologist testified that she found gasoline and kerosene on the jeans.

As he left the courtroom, White turned around to face his friends. His voice shaking, he said: "I love you guys. Please pray for my family."


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