Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Witness describes
Kahaluu stabbing

Arraignment is June 6 in the
murder of a retired sumo wrestler

A woman testified yesterday that Kealiiokalani Meheula admitted to her that he had stabbed their friend, retired sumo wrestler Percy Kipapa.

"He stabbed him -- he said that he stabbed our friend," said Donna Freitas, who testified in Honolulu District Court at the preliminary hearing yesterday of Meheula, 30, charged with second-degree murder.

District Judge Leslie Hayashi found there was probable cause that Meheula committed the crime and sent the case to Circuit Court, where he will be arraigned June 6. Meheula remains in custody in lieu of $150,000 bail.

Freitas said she was at a Kahaluu home with Meheula's mother and another woman on May 16 when Meheula appeared.

He appeared out of breath, was breathing heavily and didn't say anything at first, Freitas said. "He looked weird ... his eyes just bulging ... like he was out there ... he looked nervous," she testified.

Meheula also had blood splattered over the front of his shirt, on his pants and on his arm and was holding what appeared to be a bloodied footlong hunting knife, Freitas said.

When asked what was wrong and if he was hurt, Meheula answered, "No," but added, "I stabbed Percy."

When she asked him why he did it, Meheula replied, "I don't know -- did I do the right thing?" Freitas testified.

During questioning by Meheula's court-appointed attorney, William Domingo, Freitas said she didn't understand Meheula's remark about doing "the right thing."

Freitas said she had no idea why Meheula would do such a thing to their friend. She had known both men for at least three years.

Freitas said she jumped into her car to check on Kipapa. She drove down the long hilly driveway until she came across a parked red GMC truck in the middle of the road with its headlights on. She didn't see Kipapa so she kept on driving and made a loop before returning and parking next to the red truck.

When she neared the truck and looked into the driver's seat, she saw Kipapa slumped behind the wheel and leaning sideways, his head almost on the seat next to him. She couldn't see much because it was dark but the "gurgling" sound she heard was unmistakable, she said.

She reached into the truck to shake him and when he didn't respond, she returned to her car to call 911 only to find her cell phone battery was dead.

Meheula tried to get into Freitas' car on the passenger side, but the door was locked and the window was closed, she said.

But his mother, Venda Meheula, managed to get Freitas' driver's door opened, enabling her son to scramble inside, Freitas said. Venda Meheula then instructed Freitas to take her son to his sister's house in Kaneohe.

Although neither mother nor son threatened her, Freitas said she couldn't wait for police to arrive and did as she was instructed. "If he could do him -- his friend ... and he's in my car ... " she said, her voice trailing off.

When Meheula got into her car, he was carrying an object wrapped in a shirt or jacket that he appeared to be holding like a knife, Freitas said.

Earlier, Deputy Medical Examiner Gayle Suzuki testified Kipapa suffered at least three stab wounds, two to the abdomen and one to the heart, piercing it. Kipapa also suffered other wounds to his hands that she characterized as defensive wounds.

The stab to the heart, causing a wound 5 inches deep, was what caused Kipapa's death, Suzuki said. Kipapa also tested positive for methamphetamine, she said.

Meheula showed up at Kaneohe Fire Station later that night with a stab wound to his right thigh. He couldn't say how he was injured and was taken to Castle Medical Center for treatment.

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