Wednesday, July 8, 1998

Eddie Sua held
without bail in drug
trafficking case

A magistrate believes
Sua wouldn't follow any
conditions of release

By Rod Ohira


Etuale and Faleupolu Sua went to court hoping to return home with their sons, Robert and Eddie, but left without either.

Shortly after a Circuit Court jury convicted 20-year-old Robert, a federal magistrate yesterday ordered his older brother, Eddie, held without bail on drug trafficking charges.

Seven of his 10 sons are currently in prison, but until Eddie's arrest, none had been charged with a federal offense, Etuale Sua said.

"Sometimes I die, too," said Sua, who is unemployed because of a disability. "Our kids never think right. They go with the wrong people."

Magistrate Barry Kurren ruled that Eddie Sua, 21, is a danger to the community based on his violent criminal history. The fact that Sua was arrested while on probation was also a factor in his decision, Kurren said.

"I have no confidence he would follow any conditions of release I would set," the magistrate said.

Pamela Tamashiro, Sua's attorney, argued unsuccessfully that the weight of evidence against her client is low and that he had not violated conditions of his probation since July 1997.

She also said Sua had passed five drug tests while on probation.

"Mr. Sua has a history of violence, not drug intake," Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said.

Sua and four others -- Kaisa Tai, Raymond Pulu, Tracy Enos and Dilon Cagulada -- were arrested last week after they allegedly went to pick up a shipment of drugs from Los Angeles at a hotel near Honolulu Airport.

Enos yesterday was released on a $25,000 signature bond and will remain at a halfway house until trial. Cagulada was released on a $50,000 signature bond Monday.

Kurren, however, ordered detention for Pulu and Tai.

Tai, who was also on probation when arrested, is a flight risk and a danger to the community, Kurren said.

The magistrate declined to release Pulu to his mother's custody due to his failure in the past to attend court appearances.

Kubo said Pulu represents a flight risk because he allegedly owes a substantial amount of money to a drug dealer and is involved in a separate drug investigation.

Mother says police
‘hate the Suas’

Charged with trying to murder
an officer, Robert Sua is convicted
of a lesser charge

By Susan Kreifels


The mother of Robert Sua has accused police of "hating the Suas" when an officer shot her son, who was armed with two knives and coming after him.

But it was the testimony from another officer who told police not to shoot that helped prevent her son from spending the rest of his life in prison.

A Circuit Court jury yesterday convicted Sua, 20, of second-degree reckless endangering after deliberating for about eight hours. He had been charged with first-degree attempted murder.

Jury foreman Kevin Mendes said inconsistencies in police testimony convinced jurors there was reasonable doubt that Sua tried to kill officer Danny Thornton on Feb. 6, 1997, after Thornton shot him. Especially convincing, Mendes said, were the words of officer Theodore Molale.

Molale had tried to communicate with Sua, who testified last week he was suicidal and wanted police to shoot him rather than hurt officers at the scene.

"The guy (Molale) went above and beyond the call of duty to settle it peacefully," Deputy Public Defender David Hayakawa said.

Molale said Sua simply fell to the ground after being shot. But two other officers testified that Sua rose, lunged at Thornton, and tried to stab him in the chest after taking the bullets.

Faleupolu Sua sobbed after hearing her son's verdict. "We all know they hate the Suas," she said, lashing out at police.

She had testified that she called police to the Sua's Waipahu home to help control her son, who had been drinking and arguing with neighbors that day.

Robert Sua's uncle, Mike Fiapai, said police didn't have to shoot his nephew because there were so many officers at the scene. "He fell down; the police kept on shooting like he was target practice," Fiapai said.

"The police didn't want to help my son, just hit my son," contended father Etuale Sua.

Edward Sua was arrested in a drug bust shortly before he was to testify in Robert Sua's trial.

Two months before Robert Sua chased police with knives, he had been placed on parole after serving three of 10 years for earlier assault charges, which also involved knives. Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario, presiding over the current trial, had sentenced Robert Sua as an adult in the prior assault case.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jean Ireton said Sua also was accused of another assault charge before the February incident and had been scheduled to go before the parole board.

"He's certainly proven he doesn't belong in the community," Ireton said.

Jurors also found Sua guilty of five counts of terroristic threatening, which each carry a five-year sentence.

Ireton said Sua could served anywhere from five to 33 years in prison, depending on the parole board's decision concerning his previous sentence.

Hayakawa -- while accusing some police of lying in their testimony and criticizing the department for a poor investigation of the shooting -- said he never raised the issue of whether the shooting itself was justified. "Robert wanted them to shoot him," Hayakawa said.

Ireton said police did not "misjudge the situation at all."

In a statement issued after the verdict, police Chief Lee Donohue called the American justice system "the best in the world."

"I believe that most people understand that our officers must make life-and-death decisions every day, and we greatly appreciate the support that we receive from the public," he said.

Robert Sua's family disagreed. His parents said police lied during the trial and should be held accountable.

Etuale Sua said he would move back to Samoa with son Robert when he gets out of jail. "He is a good boy to me. I'll take him away and keep on watching him and talking to him."

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