Man's murder charge dismissed
Prosecutors did not provide Khamxath Baccam a speedy trial, a judge rules
A murder charge against a North Shore farmer has been dismissed because prosecutors failed to give him a speedy trial on a charge of fatally shooting a trespasser who he said was stealing from him.
Acting Circuit Judge Hilary Gangnes dismissed the case yesterday against Kahuku farmer Khamxath Baccam because of failure to bring him to trial within 180 days of his arrest.
Baccam could still be charged again. Deputy Prosecutor Russell Uehara, the second prosecutor to be assigned the case, noted that there is no statute of limitations for murder. But "for reasons not apparent at the time the case was charged," his office will be discussing a plea deal to try to resolve the case.
"This case should have been thoroughly investigated before rushing to preliminary hearing," Uehara said afterward.
Defense attorney Todd Eddins said the dismissal gives prosecutors the opportunity to thoroughly review the case. "Ideally, the government will determine that the interests of justice do not warrant the prosecution of a hard-working, law-abiding American farmer for an act of self-preservation," he said.
"It's a textbook case of self-defense."
Found next to the alleged trespasser's body was a dive light with a handle. "He was wielding that at Baccam, and Baccam repeatedly told him to stop, and he shot," Eddins said.
The trespasser allegedly carried a backpack containing a ski mask, bolt cutters, various property allegedly belonging to Baccam, "ice" pipes and ice, Eddins said.
Other people had reported the trespasser to police in the past for stealing farm property, he said.
Uehara had sought a continuance of trial after recommending further investigation be done on the case, including determining the victim's true name.
"I did not want to try a case in which I was not sure of the victim's identity and complete legal name," Uehara said.
The victim, Marcelino D. Pacheco, is identified in the complaint as Marcelino D. Pacheco Jr., but the police and autopsy report do not indicate he is a junior. Uehara has ordered certified copies of Pacheco's birth and death certificates and inquired into whether there is a senior Pacheco.
Prosecutors had conceded earlier that the murder-by-omission portion of the charge be dismissed because of testimony by the medical examiner at the preliminary hearing.
Dr. William Goodhue had testified that because of the amount of methamphetamine in the victim's system, his heart was pumping so quickly that he bled to death before help could arrive.
Goodhue had testified that Pacheco "very likely died" two to three minutes after he had been shot. Pacheco was shot in the femoral artery, the largest artery in the leg. Even if medical assistance was summoned, it would have been impossible for them to reach the victim on that deserted dirt road in the middle of the night to save his life.
Earlier this year, Circuit Judge Marcia Waldorf ordered statements that Baccam gave to a retired police officer at the Wahiawa Police Station the day after the shooting be suppressed. Baccam allegedly admitted he had shot and killed a man the night before.
The officer continued to question Baccam without reading him his rights. Waldorf ruled that Baccam's statements about shooting the victim with a shotgun, breaking the weapon in half and throwing it into a swamp would be inadmissible at trial. The gun was never recovered.