Bar fined for serving man, 19, killed in fight
The Kaneohe bar where a 19-year-old man had been drinking before he was stabbed to death in the bar's parking lot is on probation and must pay a fine for serving liquor to the underage victim.
The case turned on an allegedly phony ID card that disappeared along with a wad of money during the fatal fight.
At a Honolulu Liquor Commission hearing Thursday, the commission voted unanimously to fine Club Komo Mai $2,000 and put the establishment on probation for six months.
Owner Ann Kaauamo smiled after the decision but declined to comment.
Club Komo Mai's attorney, Keith Kiuchi, said the commission could have revoked the bar's liquor license.
The commission is "serious about underage drinking, but so is my client," he said. "She doesn't want underage drinking at the bar."
Gwen Kailihiwa, mother of the victim, has been trying to cope with the loss of her son Steven Wilcox. She said the fine was not enough.
"I am saddened to hear that's what the fine is," she said. "I'm glad for the awareness from the Liquor Commission ... but the fine is too small."
She said a larger fine would have brought more awareness to other bars to prevent underage drinking.
On June 8, Wilcox, a Waimanalo resident, was stabbed once in the parking lot of Club Komo Mai in the Kaneohe Shopping Center. He was trying to break up an alleged fight between the suspect and the suspect's wife.
Glenn Keohokapu Jr., also of Waimanalo, was indicted in Wilcox's death.
Witnesses reported seeing Wilcox in Club Komo Mai before the fight, drinking with a man he identified as his uncle.
There were two employees in the bar that night, a male bartender and a woman, Kiuchi said.
The bartender testified that Wilcox produced a state ID card that showed he was in his 30s, then bought a beer for himself and a round for Keohokapu and his wife. The bartender said he remembered the ID because it had the same birthday as his daughter.
Kiuchi requested police documents in the case, hoping to find evidence of the fake ID, but it was never found.
Because the murder case is ongoing, the police documents were presented to the commission under seal.
According to information from police documents released during the hearing, Wilcox was found with only $14 at the hospital. An emergency room doctor, who did not know his identification, described him as a man in his late 20s.
In the police documents, witnesses reported that before the fight Wilcox took off his shirt, chain and watch and placed a wad of money on a vehicle, Kiuchi said. Those items were never recovered.
"What we perceived to be the fake ID was never recovered," Kiuchi said. "Obviously, that's a problem.
"The bartender did his job. He asked for ID. We presented a logical reason why the fake ID wasn't found," he said, saying the ID probably was in the pile of Wilcox's belongings that were never found.
Kiuchi said he tried to show the commission that the bartender sold Wilcox liquor in good faith that he was of age.
Before the commission made its decision, Deputy Corporation Counsel Tracie Nakamatsu said the bar did not have any prior violations, but asked for a $2,000 fine because of the "egregious nature of the violation and the circumstances surrounding it."
Kiuchi argued that the fine for a first offense is usually $1,000.
Liquor Commission Administrator Dewey Kim said, "The consequence of violence and assault happens more often than the car accident," he said. "We need to tone it down."