Assault case out for murder trial
A state judge has ruled that the state will not be allowed to bring in evidence from a prior sexual assault case against murder suspect Kirk Lankford at his upcoming trial.
Lankford is awaiting trial in February for second-degree murder in the disappearance of Japanese national Masumi Watanabe, 21, earlier this year.
Lankford was questioned as part of a sexual assault case about a year earlier, but no charges were ever filed. A detective who recently questioned Lankford about the alleged sexual assault testified this week that he did not believe Lankford was being truthful when he denied any knowledge of the victim, who was an exotic dancer at a hostess bar.
City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle had argued yesterday that the similarities in the two cases establish the signature of the perpetrator and that this type of evidence was "critical to the successful prosecution of this case."
Defense attorney Don Wilkerson argued to keep the sex assault allegations out because there was no evidence that Lankford was involved, much less charged in that case. Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto agreed with the defense, saying the evidence did not establish that Lankford committed the sexual assault.
Statehood group plans festivities
The 25-member 50th Anniversary of Statehood Commission met for the first time yesterday.
The commission is expected to plan events and ceremonies to mark the 50th anniversary of Hawaii becoming a state in 1959.
Kippen de Alba Chu, executive director of Iolani Palace, was voted by fellow commissioners as chairman of the commission.
Another commission member, Donald Cataluna, an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee, urged the commission to consider not staging statehood celebrations at Iolani Palace.
"There are some 30 sovereignty groups that want to go back to the kingdom. It might be good if no celebrations were held at the palace," Cataluna said.
The commission said one of the goals of the commission would be to include as many ethnic groups as possible in the celebration.
Hawaii Kai seeks board members
The Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board is looking for candidates to fill two vacant subdistrict positions.
The vacancies are for Subdistrict 3 (Hahaione Valley) and Subdistrict 8 (Lunalilo Park, Mauka). The terms for both vacancies run through May 2009. Candidates must be residents in the respective subdistricts.
Interested individuals can declare their candidacy at the board's monthly meeting Nov. 27 at the Hahaione Elementary School cafeteria.
Candidates may also express their interest to fill the vacancies via e-mail to board member Greg Knudsen at email@example.com and to include their address and qualifications.
Turkey meal offered to homeless
The 21st annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless at Chinatown Gateway Park will start at 1 p.m. Nov. 24, not 11 a.m. as previously announced.
Host Sharon Black said food items, cooked and ready to serve, and nonperishable donations should be dropped off at 11:30 a.m. at Bethel and Hotel streets.
Black, who serves a free lunch every Saturday at the park from her Kau Kau Wagon, said the Thanksgiving dinner is "not just for the homeless. If you're hungry, you're welcome."
For more information and to make donations, call her at 398-6665 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police, Fire, Courts
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The force of impact cracked the windshield of a vehicle that hit a pedestrian who was crossing the street on Kalanianaole Highway near Waa Street yesterday, according to police. Officers said that the man was in a crosswalk when he was hit by the car, which was traveling west. The man died later at the Queen's Medical center.
Pedestrian dies from crash injuries
An 85-year-old Honolulu man died yesterday from injuries he sustained earlier in the day from being struck by a car.
An 82-year-old Honolulu woman, driving a station wagon, struck the pedestrian on Kalanianaole Highway near Wailupe Beach.
The pedestrian was crossing Kalanianaole Highway within a marked crosswalk at the intersection with Waa Street when he was struck at 10:54 a.m., police said. There is no traffic signal at the location, police said.
The man was taken in critical condition with head, torso and leg injuries to the Queen's Medical Center, where he later died.
This was the 56th Oahu traffic fatality this year compared with 82 at the same time last year.
Welding job sparks fire inside house
A resident welding a pipe inside a home caused a house fire yesterday at Hawaiian Acres in Mountain View, Big Island fire officials said.
Fire officials said half of the single-story house at 16-1418 Uhini Ana Road was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
The fire caused $150,000 in damage.
One resident was at home and got out uninjured, according to a news release by the Hawaii Fire Department.
About 11 firefighters and five volunteers fought the blaze. The fire was reported at about 8:30 a.m. and was under control an hour later.
Cause of hotel blaze is unknown
A fire investigator has classified the cause of the Waikiki hotel fire Tuesday night as undetermined, fire Capt. Terry Seelig said.
The fire at the Royal Kuhio Hotel caused an estimated $150,000 in damage and forced the evacuation of an estimated 100 to 150 people.
The fire originated on the seventh floor, where a contractor had stored various flammable liquids, Seelig said.
The space is used as a recreation area, fire officials said.
Boy, 15, arrested in domestic spat
Police arrested a 15-year-old Honolulu boy after he allegedly tried to choke his girlfriend and smother her and allegedly began choking his sister, who witnessed his attack.
Police said the attacks occurred at 5:20 p.m. yesterday at a home in the Kapiolani area.
The teenage boy allegedly grabbed his 14-year-old girlfriend by the neck and blocked her airway during an argument, police said. He then allegedly threw her to the ground and covered her face with a pillow.
Police said the boy's 19-year-old sister witnessed the attack and tried to intervene. The boy then allegedly pushed her against the wall and tried to choke her, police said.
The boy was arrested on two counts of felony abuse of a household member.