Newswatch

Newswatch

By Star-Bulletin Staff

Wednesday, September 16, 1998

Driver who left Viti
to die gets 10-year term

Luther Niheu Jr., 28, was sentenced today to a maximum 10 years in prison for leaving photo-journalist Carl Viti, 52, to die without helping him after Niheu's vehicle hit Viti, who was on a bicycle.

Niheu also to pay restitution of $16,292 to Viti's wife, Ruby Mata-Viti.

Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario said the 1996 crime contained the most "aggravated circumstances" because Niheu had failed to render aid, telling bystanders he would drive to get help, then failed to do so.

Viti was a Honolulu Advertiser photographer.

Del Rosario said Niheu "struck Mr. Viti from the rear and Mr. Viti was thrown into the vehicle."

"It was clear he witnessed the severity and he must have been aware of the potential harm."

Niheu fled after the accident Nov. 3, 1996. He wiped his fingerprints from his car and dumped the vehicle Del Rosario said. He didn't turn himself in until two weeks later, after police identified him, the judge said.

Niheu had pleaded no contest to failure to render aid, negligent homicide and driving without a license.

Niheu apologized to family members who were present at the hearing. The Hawaii Paroling Authority will set a minimum time that Niheu must spend in prison.


Helco must halt work on Keahole power plant

KEAHOLE, Hawaii -- Hawaii Electric Light Co. has been ordered to halt preparatory work for the building of a new 58-megawatt power plant at Keahole in North Kona until Sept. 29.

Judge Ronald Ibarra last week granted a temporary restraining order against the company as requested by the Keahole Defense Coalition, which says the power plant would create air pollution.

Helco president Warren Lee confirmed that Ibarra ordered eight building permits suspended until more evidence can be presented to the court.

The state Health Department earlier ordered the company to halt work on three small projects at Keahole. None of the work is on the power plant itself, but rather on items needed in preparation for building the plant or to upgrade existing power generators at the site, Lee said.

The company had obtained a federal air quality permit to build the new plant, but the Keahole Defense Coalition appealed its issuance.

Waianae mental health center is reaccredited

The Waianae Coast Community Mental Health Center, or Hale Na'au Pono, has been reaccredited by a national commission for three years.

In a letter to the agency, Donald E. Galvin, president of the Rehabilitation Commission, said the accreditation "is an indication of your organization's dedication and commitment to improving the quality of the lives of people in need of rehabilitation."

The commission accredited the center three years ago for outpatient and case management services. It has since diversified to include substance abuse treatment and prevention counseling, psycho-social rehabilitation services, therapeutic foster home care, school-centered services and others.

The staff has grown from 40 to 100; the population of 350 clients has doubled, and the center's budget has increased by one-third.

The commission report said data show the center's clients have the lowest hospitalization rates in Hawaii.

"The services have also been among the most cost-effective in the state."

Puanani Burgess has been the center's leader for most of the 12 years since it became independent of the state-operated mental health system.

The accreditation report noted that the center serves a culturally diverse population and says: "It is clear that every effort is made to be sensitive to the cultural, spiritual and physical needs of the clients."

The report also praised the center for its "attention to the protection of individual rights, privacy and respect for the dignity of the persons served."

Teachers to take course on refurbishing computers

About 100 public and private school teachers this summer are expected to participate in a free 10-day training program on refurbishing used personal computers.

Some 1,000 surplus computers were donated to the Hawaii Computers for Kids program, which has been donating refurbished computers to schools since 1992.

Ken Goldstein of Computer Aided Technologies International Inc. will train the teachers on how to take PCs apart, rebuild them and load software.

The program was developed by Goldstein, the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to help schools with better computer and telecommunication resources.

Hawaii Computers for Kids welcomes donations of used and surplus computer equipment and software. For information, call Goldstein at 521-2259 or e-mail him at catii@iname.com.

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Police, Fire, Courts

Police/Fire

By Star-Bulletin staff

Shooting suspect, 26, claims self-defense

The suspect in a shooting in Wahiawa told police he killed 24-year-old John J. Keao in self-defense.

A 26-year-old Wahiawa man was arrested yesterday morning in connection with the murder. He turned himself in to the Wahiawa police station at 9:45 a.m.

The medical examiner's office today said that Keao died of multiple internal wounds caused by gunfire.

Witness accounts of the incident Monday night at the Schofield Sands apartment complex differ.

Honolulu Police Homicide Lt. Allen Napoleon said it appears the incident was provoked by a confrontation over rubbish left at the complex.

But other witnesses said Keao, his brother and their father shouted racial slurs and threatened a group of black men and women with a pipe and baseball bat.

Napoleon said it is too early in the investigation to tell if the shooting was provoked in part by racism or occurred in self-defense.

Police searched unsuccessfully for the gun yesterday. Detectives were expected to resume the search today.

Theft of golf clubs traced to OCCC inmate

Police Crime Reduction Unit officers arrested an inmate in connection with the theft of a set of golf clubs in July.

Officers traced a fingerprint on a pawn shop sales slip to the 23-year-old man serving time in the Oahu Community Correctional Center for an unrelated crime.

The clubs were stolen from the Hawaii Kai Golf Course on July 13, police said. The clubs, which belonged to a Big Island man, were later located at a McCully area pawn shop.

The man was booked on felony theft charges and released back to OCCC.

Student, 13, booked for packing large knife

A Kawananakoa Intermediate School student, 13, was arrested yesterday for reportedly bringing a large knife to class. A teacher spotted the hunting knife when the boy opened his backpack to retrieve an assignment, police said.

Why the student brought the knife to school is unknown. The boy was booked for possession of a deadly weapon.

Detention worker hurt in girl's escape attempt

Police on Monday arrested a 14-year-old girl being held at the Alder Street youth detention home for allegedly assaulting a detention worker.

The girl reportedly assaulted the worker while trying to escape by climbing a pole, police said. The worker suffered minor cuts.

Woman dead, 2 hurt in Big Isle wreck

PAHOA, Hawaii -- A 66-year-old woman is dead and two other people remain hospitalized following a two-vehicle accident Monday near Pahoa, police said.

A pickup truck driven by a 41-year-old Paradise Park man crossed the center line of Kahakai Boulevard and struck a car driven by Angelina Pooloa, 27, of Hilo, they said.

Angelina Williams of Hilo, Pooloa's mother, a passenger in the car, died on the way to Hilo Hospital after the 11:30 a.m. accident.

Pooloa and her son, Roland Mendoza III, 4, were taken to Hilo Hospital, where they remain in stable condition.

Witnesses said the driver of the pickup was speeding and passing lines of cars before the accident. He was arrested for negligent homicide, negligent injury and failure to have auto insurance or a drivers license, but was released pending investigation.

Woman, 34, being held in Kona home burglary

KAILUA-KONA -- Police are holding an East Hawaii woman after she was discovered burglarizing a Kona home.

The Kahakai Road resident said she returned home at 2 a.m. to discover the door open and the suspect, later identified as Cheryl Ann Arthur, 34, of Fern Acres, inside saying she was looking for friends.

After Arthur left the house, the victim realized a video camera was missing and called police, who found and arrested the suspect at 2:30 a.m.

Arthur was charged with burglary and theft and held in lieu of $7,000 bail. She is also being held without bail for a prior contempt-of-court warrant.

Hit-and-run leaves boy, 14, critically injured

WAILUKU -- A 14-year-old boy remained in critical condition this morning at Maui Memorial Medical Center after being struck by a vehicle along Ulumalu Road in Haiku.

Police officer Kelly Alos said the hit-and-run incident took place a tenth of a mile north of Kaupakulua Road as the boy was walking home from a friend's house at about 6:45 p.m. yesterday.



Truth Contest $6,000

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