Suspect pleads not guilty in deputy sheriff's murder
The judge in John Lorenzo's previous cases will preside
The man accused of fatally shooting an off-duty deputy sheriff this month pleaded not guilty yesterday during a video arraignment from the Oahu Community Correctional Center.
The murder case was assigned to Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto, the same judge who has been criticized for delaying the sentencing of the suspect on drug charges last year so he could finish a drug rehabilitation program.
Prosecutors have said that had Sakamoto sentenced John Koa Lorenzo to jail in October as scheduled, Lorenzo would not have been free Feb. 10, when Deputy Sheriff Daniel Browne-Sanchez was fatally shot in a botched robbery attempt at the Osake Sushi Bar & Lounge.
Lorenzo, 32, also known as Patrick Koa Lorenzo, is accused of shooting Browne-Sanchez three times as the off-duty officer tried to subdue him. Browne-Sanchez worked part time as a bar back at the Kapiolani Boulevard lounge.
Lorenzo was indicted on multiple charges, including second-degree murder and first- and second-degree attempted murder.
Court-appointed attorney Walter Rodby entered a not-guilty plea for Lorenzo in Circuit Court before Administrative Circuit Judge Derrick Chan, as Lorenzo appeared via video from OCCC.
Chan set a trial week in April and assigned the case to Sakamoto, who had handled Lorenzo's prior drug cases.
Lorenzo is expected to appear this morning before Sakamoto to hear arguments on city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle's motion to have him sentenced on outstanding drug and DUI charges.
Prosecutors have criticized Sakamoto for granting Lorenzo's requests to stay his sentencing on four separate occasions so he could complete a drug treatment program -- over the prosecutor's objections.
Sakamoto granted the latest continuance in late January, 16 days before Browne-Sanchez was killed.
Rodby maintains that Sakamoto was within the bounds of the law to allow Lorenzo to complete drug treatment and remains confident his client will be treated fairly.
"I've no doubt Judge Sakamoto will give both the state and the defendant a fair trial," he said yesterday.