Watada gets temporary stay
A federal judge in Tacoma, Wash., has temporarily blocked the Army from conducting a second court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, an Iraq war objector, saying it is likely the second trial would violate the soldier's constitutional rights.
Granting an emergency motion for a stay, U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled yesterday that no court-martial will be held for Watada pending the outcome of his claim that it would violate his Fifth Amendment rights by trying him twice for the same charges.
Watada's first court-martial ended in a mistrial in February; Settle wrote that the military judge likely abused his discretion in declaring the mistrial.
Watada, based at Fort Lewis, Wash., is charged with missing his unit's deployment to Iraq in June 2006 and with conduct unbecoming an officer for denouncing President Bush and the war. If convicted, he could be sentenced to six years in prison and be dishonorably discharged.
Watada contends the war is illegal and that he would be party to war crimes if he served in Iraq. The Army refused his request to be posted in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
"This is an enormous victory, but it is not yet over," Kenneth Kagan, one of Watada's attorneys, said in a statement.
Settle did not indicate what the next steps would be.
Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek said the judge acted "so that he may hear further evidence on the double jeopardy issue."
Watada’s term of service in the military ended last December, but the legal proceedings have prevented his discharge. He lives in Olympia and continues to perform administrative duties at Fort Lewis, south of Seattle.
Niu Valley sewer work nearly pau
The city will soon complete its work on the Niu Valley Waste Water Pump Station, the first finished project of several planned sewer upgrades, Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced yesterday.
Crews recently removed a thick, black temporary sewer line that had been sitting atop the median of Kalanianaole Highway for more than two years which prompted many resident complaints. The city began working on the $14 million emergency bypass project after three sewage breaks in February 2005.
"I believe that any penny was well worth it," Hannemann said yesterday at a news conference. "The eyesore has been removed."
Crews will still have miscellaneous work around the pump station, including restoring the fences and removing brackets that protected the sewer pipe on the median, after the holiday season.
Hannemann said that as the city starts on other sewage projects in other communities, residents will have to put up with similar inconveniences with construction noises and exposed temporary sewage lines.
The city will notify residents beforehand. Other upcoming projects include reconstruction on Wanaao Road and Keolu Drive sewers in Kailua and Enchanted Lake and upgrades in St. Louis Heights.
Police, Fire, Courts
Visitor dies after surf session
HAENA, Kauai » A surfer visiting from California died yesterday after surfing "Dump Trucks" on Kauai's North Shore.
Nolan McSkimming, 31, of Carlsbad was surfing the outer reef break at Tunnels Beach, with his wife and young child on the beach, when he apparently signaled a lifeguard that he was in trouble, county officials said.
At about 11:15 a.m., McSkimming was brought to the beach by a lifeguard on a surfboard. On the way in, county officials said, the lifeguard noticed that McSkimming had lost consciousness. He began performing CPR on the victim until emergency medical technicians and firefighters from the Hanalei fire station arrived at the scene and took over.
According to county public information officer Mary Daubert, lifeguards did not indicate in their report that McSkimming had any outward physical injury consistent with hitting the shallow reef known to the surfers at "Dump Trucks."
McSkimming was taken to Wilcox Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Man last seen on Citron Street
Police need help in finding a missing 21-year-old man.
Brandon Fong was last seen at about 9 p.m. Saturday at a family member's apartment on Citron Street. According to a CrimeStoppers statement, Fong is mentally challenged and had told family members that he was going to go nightclubbing. He has not been heard from since.
He is 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black undershirt, black pinstriped jacket and blue jeans. He has tribal tattoo designs on both arms. Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME on a cellular phone.
Missing man might have had seizure
An 18-year-old man has been missing since last Friday.
Abraham Cabral is described as 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 180 pounds, and was last seen wearing an orange T-shirt and blue jeans. A CrimeStoppers statement said he might have had a seizure before disappearing, and has not been in contact with family or friends.
Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME on a cellular phone.
Cause of blaze remains unknown
A fire that gutted a single-story Kailua home on Wednesday caused nearly $550,000 in damage, firefighters said.
The fire at 508 Papalani St. resulted in $450,000 in damage to the structure and $80,000 in damage to the contents. A neighboring house sustained $10,000 in damage from the fire's heat, said Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Frank Johnson.
The blaze started at about 2:40 p.m., and firefighters had it under control an hour later. But items blocked firefighters, hampering them from extinguishing the fire. When the fire rekindled yesterday, firefighters tore down half of the house to fight it, Johnson said.
Investigators determined the fire had started in the living room, but were unable to determine its cause because of the structure's instability.
Victim gives cash to pair with knife
Two suspects remained on the loose yesterday after robbing a 32-year-old man of his money at knifepoint, police said.
At about 2:45 a.m. the victim, a 32-year-old man, was sitting in his truck in Pearl City when two unknown men approached him and demanded money.
One man allegedly slashed the victim's arm with a knife after he refused. The victim gave up his money, and the two men fled, police said.
A first-degree robbery case has been opened.
Assault on teen breaks his jaw
Big Island police are searching for the assailant who punched a 17-year-old boy, breaking his jaw, on Halloween.
The boy, from Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, was with two friends who were shooting a paintball gun at a scenic park on Halekii Street at about 8:25 p.m., police said. Someone complained, and the boy with the paintball gun left the park but the victim and his friend stayed.
An assailant punched the boy, knocking him to the ground, police said. He sustained a broken jaw.
Police are asking witnesses to call officer David Matsushima at 326-4646, ext. 253, police at 935-3311 or CrimeStoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona.
Visitor succumbs after water rescue
A visitor to Maui died Wednesday after he was pulled out of the water near Kaanapali, police said.
The man was swimming with his wife before noon when the woman called for help. Bystanders pulled the man to shore and began to administer CPR, police said. There are no lifeguard stations at the beach.
The man was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center and died that day. Police did not release the man's name yesterday.