Whale count volunteers sought
Wanted: volunteers to count humpback whales on Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island.
The Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary will conduct the 2007 Ocean Count on Jan. 27, Feb. 24 and March 31. Volunteers will count whales and record their behaviors from more than 65 sites on shore. To register, call 397-2651, ext. 253, for Oahu; 888-55-WHALE, ext. 253, for the Big Island; and 246-2860 for Kauai.
Ex-officer to go to trial in death of 19-year-old
The trial of a former police officer of the Department of Defense who was indicted for the murder of a 19-year-old man is scheduled to start Jan. 16.
Jenaro Torres was indicted by an Oahu grand jury in December 2005 for second-degree murder of Ruben Gallegos, a Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange cashier.
Gallegos, 19, was last seen with Torres as they left the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base Exchange on May 1, 1992.
Several hours later, Torres was arrested by military police, who found Gallegos' wallet, hairbrush and key to the cashier cage in his vehicle. Torres' handgun, uniform and stun gun were also found in the car. Gallegos' body was never found.
Suspended attorney is allowed to resign
The Supreme Court allowed a 65-year-old attorney formerly of Honolulu to resign from the practice of law instead of facing discipline, which went into effect Dec. 29.
Dale L. Bennett was suspended in 2004 from practicing law for failing to cooperate with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in the investigation of 10 cases. The resignation is similar to disbarment for all purposes under the Supreme Court rules.
In the 2003 murder trial of Florencio Garperio, his public defender argued his client did not get the benefit of a fair trial because Bennett had provided ineffective counsel as his previous lawyer. Garperio received life with the possibility of parole.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel warns the public that Bennett cannot practice law until he is reinstated by the state Supreme Court. He also cannot accept retainers, legal matters or clients and must immediately return all unearned retainers and files to former clients.
Bennett, a University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law graduate, was admitted Oct. 12, 1989, to the Hawaii bar.
State official honored with peace award
Elizabeth R. Kent, director of the Hawaii State Judiciary's Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, is the recipient of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peacemaker Award.
Church of the Crossroads awarded the honor to Kent for being "instrumental in developing and implementing mediation programs throughout the state," according to a release. "She is dedicated to creating peace from conflict and diminishing violence, pain and discrimination in our society and provides vital leadership to helping people resolve disputes peacefully."
Kent will be recognized Jan. 15 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Awards Ceremony at 7 p.m. at the church, at 1212 University Ave.
Kent has facilitated important public policy disputes in domestic violence, environmental issues in Makua Valley and services for victims of crime, among other areas. For more information, call the church at 949-2220 or event chairman Mike Compton at 256-7784.
Coming this weekend in your Star-Bulletin:
» Nigerian artist Ibiyinka Olufemi Alao shares his life lessons and his wildly colorful artwork with local students as an ambassador of art from his country.
» Introducing a new column, "Screen Time," by Star-Bulletin staffer Katherine Nichols, who will provide news and nuggets from the local film and television industry.
» The Weekly Eater visits Bombay, a new Indian restaurant that has received a warm welcome at Discovery Bay Center.
» Many Molokai residents would like to see the reopening of the Kaluakoi Hotel, which has been closed since 2000. But not as many are happy with the way Molokai Ranch, the Friendly Isle's largest landowner and employer, proposes to pay for it.
» Stanley Ho's casinos used to be the only game in Macau. But now, as the former Portuguese colony's gaming industry rivals that of Las Vegas, he is facing a horde of well-heeled competitors.
» Travel Editor Nadine Kam finds Vancouver, Canada, has much to offer for foodies, shopaholics and outdoor adventurers alike.
Police, Fire, Courts
Stolen truck found on officer's hunch
An off-duty policeman shows it pays to be suspicious.
The officer was on his way to work at the Wahiawa Police Station around 2 p.m. when he thought he saw a white truck that might have been responsible for several car break-ins on the North Shore.
He followed the truck on Wilikina Drive and sounded his siren and horn, causing the driver of another white truck to panic. That driver reversed, struck the officer's vehicle and fled, police said.
Police searching for the second truck found it abandoned on Ohai Street in Wahiawa.
Plainclothes officers and patrol searched the area and found a suspect. They then confirmed with the registered owner that his truck had been stolen.
The 38-year-old man with no local address was arrested on suspicion of auto theft.
Meanwhile, the driver of the truck initially being followed by the officer had remained at the scene. He was later arrested on a traffic warrant.
Work furlough escapee captured
State deputy sheriffs captured an escapee last night who had vanished two months ago while serving time for violent crimes including attempted murder.
Allan Abihai had been missing since Nov. 6, when he failed to return to the Laumaka Work-Furlough facility by 7 p.m. from his job at Environmental Biotech.
On a tip last night, deputy sheriffs found Abihai outside a Kalihi bar on Waiakamilo Road. Abihai tried to run away and suffered minor scrapes, said Department of Public Safety Louise Kim McCoy.
He was booked for escape and now faces five years.
Abihai was sentenced in 1985 to 20 years, and had served most of his sentence and completed programs making him eligible for work furlough at the time of his escape.
Man arrested after attack on guard
Police arrested a 19-year-old man who allegedly tried to steal a vehicle at Kuakini Medical Center on Wednesday.
A hospital security guard saw him apparently trying to steal the vehicle in the employee parking structure at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, police said.
When confronted, the man pulled out a 2-foot metal rod and swung it at the guard, grazing his face, police said. The guard threw his portable radio at the suspect, striking him, they said.
Police investigated and found the suspect yesterday at the main station cellblock, where he was in custody for unrelated cases.
He was arrested on suspicion of car theft and breaking into the car.
Suspect surrenders in assault on boy
A 20-year-old man surrendered to police yesterday for allegedly assaulting a boy with a crutch at about 8 a.m. Dec. 8 in the Honolulu area.
Police said the man caused the boy serious bodily injury. He turned himself in voluntarily and was arrested on suspicion of first-degree assault.
Scuba diver who died in bay is identified
A 35-year-old visitor who died Tuesday after scuba diving in Kaneohe Bay was identified as Naomi Yamada of Fukushima, Japan.
The Medical Examiner's Office has deferred the cause of death, pending further studies, but noted she had been found in open waters.
Police said the woman was scuba diving near the sandbar in Kaneohe Bay when a witness reported she had difficulty breathing and became unresponsive.
The woman was taken to Castle Medical Center, where resuscitative efforts failed. She died shortly afterward.
Woman reports robbery in her home
An armed man entered the bedroom of a sleeping 33-year-old Kailua woman early yesterday morning and robbed her.
Police said the woman awoke at 5:15 a.m. yesterday to find an unknown man in her bedroom with a handgun.
The man fled with her wallet and an undisclosed amount of cash.
Makaha man held in child sex assault
Police arrested a 28-year-old Makaha man Wednesday who they say inappropriately touched a student while picking up the child from a Waianae-area school.
The alleged sex assaults occurred Nov. 1 and Dec. 8.
Police did not reveal the juvenile's age or gender. They said the suspect was identified and arrested at 9:35 p.m. Wednesday in Kapolei on suspicion of two counts of third-degree sex assault.
Woman, 25, charged with identity theft
Kona detectives have charged a 25-year-old woman with several counts of identity theft, forgery and fraudulent use of a credit card in businesses in Kohala and Waimea.
Stephanie Azam, who has no permanent address, was arrested last Friday by South Kohala police, and bail was set at $68,250.