DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
An emotional Kealiiokalani Meheula turned to the family of Percy Kipapa yesterday in the courtroom before he was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the murder of Kipapa. Meheula's defense attorney, Willie Domingo, is to the left.
Isle man who killed friend sentenced to life in prison
The loose-leaf binder chronicled every single phone call between Percy Kipapa and his parents, George and Priscilla Kipapa of Waikane Valley, over the seven years he trained and competed sumo in Japan.
The calls were constant, no more than a week apart, and continued up until the day he returned home in 1998, plagued by recurring injuries. His dad kept track of the calls, a reminder that not a day went by without thinking about his son.
"If he missed him that much in Japan, what now?" said Mark Panek, who befriended Percy Kipapa after he retired from sumo and returned to Hawaii.
Kipapa was stabbed to death by a friend, Kealiiokalani Meheula, in May 2005. Meheula, a Kaneohe resident, was found guilty in June of second-degree murder.
Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto sentenced Meheula yesterday to the mandatory life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.
Meheula maintained he never intended to kill his friend, but that he was only trying to defend himself against the much larger Kipapa, who was choking him. Kipapa allegedly had been acting erratically that night, including swerving into a telephone pole, narrowly missing it.
Meheula told others later that he stabbed Kipapa because he had been fooling around with his girlfriend and had taken something that belonged to him.
"Percy Kipapa -- he was my friend," Meheula said yesterday, breaking down as he asked Kipapa's family for forgiveness. "I loved him with my heart, and I have to live with this for the rest of my life."
George Kipapa said he did not know how much love Percy, the youngest of the Kipapas' three children, had shared with the people here and in Japan until his funeral.
"I'm not only proud that he had a career in sumo; most of all, I'm proud he learned the word love," Kipapa said.
As for Meheula, Kipapa said he hoped God would have mercy on him and that in the future he would learn to let go of his anger and embrace others, not hurt them. "Today we gotta learn to love, not to hate," Kipapa said.