Bail reset in failure to show at theft trial
The former Maui beauty queen says her midwife had ordered bed rest
A state judge has reset bail at $100,000 for Lisa Katherine Otsuka for failing to appear in court as ordered and leaving the jurisdiction without court permission.
Otsuka, 37, a former Maui beauty queen whose name first surfaced four years ago during the investigation into then-Mayor Jeremy Harris' political campaign, was arrested last month in Las Vegas.
Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario had issued a bench warrant for her arrest Oct. 19 after she failed to show up for two pretrial conferences just days before her trial here on a 2001 theft case was to begin. She had initially posted a $50,000 bond in that case.
A second trial was to follow in a 1999 forgery case.
Prosecutors asked that Otsuka be held without bail until her trial.
Del Rosario yesterday denied their request, but noted his decision to reset bail at $50,000 in each case was reasonable given the circumstances that had led to her arrest and the history of the cases, which have been delayed numerous times over four years.
He noted that the court had held status conferences just before the Oct. 23 trial and was informed about the state's plea offer and the defense's request for more time to discuss the matter with Otsuka and have her return. The court also expressed concern that Otsuka's attorney was having trouble contacting her.
Las Vegas police located and arrested Otsuka on Nov. 17 and took her into custody pending extradition proceedings. She waived extradition and returned to Hawaii on Wednesday.
Defense attorney William Harrison argued that Otsuka is not a flight risk or a danger to the community and that she wants to resolve the cases.
He said she failed to appear in court because her midwife had recommended that she needed complete bed rest. Otsuka has a history of complications with her two prior pregnancies, he said.
Otsuka said that at her bail hearing in March 2003, her attorney "gave her no indication she couldn't leave the jurisdiction, as long as she posted bail and she made her (court) appearances," Harrison said.
She was in contact with her bail bondsman all this time and arrangements were being made to have her return, Harrison said.
While in custody in Las Vegas, Otsuka miscarried while in the cellblock and was given medical treatment, he said.
Deputy prosecutor Chris Van Marter said the facts show that Otsuka was present when she was ordered by then-Circuit Judge Sandra Simms in March 2003 not to leave the state without permission or she would be in violation of her bail.
"No one's disputing she violated the conditions of bail" outlined in Simms' written order, Van Marter said.
Otsuka, through her defense attorney, had given several addresses in Ewa Beach, Kalihi and Las Vegas, but the state had no real confirmation of where she was until Las Vegas police notified them the day before arresting her, Van Marter said.
As to her reported miscarriage, "most of what she said can't be substantiated," Van Marter said, noting that they had not received official confirmation of her condition.
Del Rosario has set a new trial date in March.
Otsuka is accused of stealing $3,000 in 2001 raised by the nonprofit Tahitian dance troupe Manutahi so they could participate in dance competitions in Maui and Tahiti.
She is also accused of stealing $12,000 from Hon/Hawaii Service Inc. by forging company checks while employed there as a bookkeeper in 1999.