Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Fatal beating
was retaliation

Police say a murder suspect
admits that he assaulted
his aunt's ex-boyfriend

A 28-year-old Kalihi Valley man accused of beating to death his aunt's ex-boyfriend told police he was angry at the man because he had physically abused his aunt in the past.


James Dean Strong: He told police that the man he attacked had abused his aunt

James Dean Strong, also known as James Dean Balai or "Dino," is charged with second-degree murder in the beating of Gaulbert "Gully" Reis at a Kalihi home June 11. Reis died at the Queen's Medical Center the next day as a result of bleeding and swelling to the brain caused by "assaultive blunt force injury to the head," medical examiners said.

Homicide Detective Roland Takasato testified yesterday in Honolulu District Court that Strong admitted to slapping, punching and shaking Reis, 60.

Benjamin Lactod, a friend who had accompanied Strong that evening to the Ahiahi Street home, told Takasato he saw Strong slap the sleeping Reis awake and then yelling and assaulting him. Lactod also said Strong punched Reis, picked him up, threw him down and kicked him once.

Lactod told police he tried to stop Strong by pulling him back, but they scuffled and when Lactod fell back, he felt his leg snap, Takasato said.

Reis, who was homeless, apparently was living in the abandoned house with no running water or electricity with his former girlfriend, Antoinette Tuituu, her current boyfriend and her son.

Tuituu, who had a on-again, off-again relationship with Reis over four years, described him as an abusive alcoholic who had threatened her in the past with scissors, a screwdriver and a gun.

She left him four months ago, but she allowed him to stay at the home.

She testified that she, Reis, Strong and two other females had been drinking at her Kalihi Valley home that night when she went to use the bathroom. When she returned, Strong was punching Reis, who had been sleeping on a mattress in the kitchen.

She did nothing to stop Strong or call for help because he told her not to say anything and because she felt afraid, she said.

During questioning by Cliff Hunt, Strong's attorney, a medical examiner said Reis had a blood-alcohol level at the hospital of 0.224 -- nearly three times the limit for driving under the influence. Acute alcohol intoxication is also listed as a cause of Reis' death, the medical examiner said.

District Judge Edwin Nacino sent the case to Circuit Court. Strong will be arraigned on July 5. He remains in custody in lieu of $250,000 bail.

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