Man pleads guilty in shooting of drug dealer
A man accused of shooting to death a drug dealer in the face during a botched drug sale pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Wednesday in Circuit Court.
Justin Luhia, 26, faces a minimum of 15 years' imprisonment for using a firearm to kill Joseph Halbuna, 47, in November 2004 at Hau Bush Park.
Luhia and another man, Alexander Akuna, apparently had gone to the park to buy crystal methamphetamine from Halbuna. Instead, Akuna robbed the middleman who accompanied Halbuna of the drugs. Then Luhia and Akuna went over to Halbuna, who sat in another car, and demanded the rest, prosecutors said.
Witnesses say they heard Luhia and Akuna confront Halbuna before assaulting him. The confrontation resulted in Luhia firing a shotgun at Halbuna's mouth, killing him.
In exchange for Luhia's plea, prosecutors have agreed to drop remaining firearms, auto theft and attempted-murder charges stemming from the incident.
Sentencing is set for May 22.
The state has agreed to recommend to the Hawaii parole board that Akuna serve no more than 25 years' imprisonment before he can be considered for parole, deputy prosecutor Chris Van Marter said.
Defense attorney Myles Breiner said all the parties involved in the case, including Luhia, were using crystal methamphetamine and living on the beach or in their cars at Hau Bush.
Luhia feels terrible remorse for what happened and is terrified of the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison, Breiner said.
"The plea offer by prosecutors offered hope, and Justin recognized he had something worth living for -- that someday he would get out of prison and pay his debt to society," Breiner said.
Akuna pleaded guilty earlier to first-degree robbery in the incident and received 10 years in prison.