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Felony charge against Chapman is dismissed


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POSTED: Friday, January 30, 2009

The felony charge in reality TV star Tim Chapman's trial was dismissed yesterday, leaving only an indecent-exposure charge against him, which is a petty misdemeanor.

  ; Chapman, a cast member of locally shot A&E show “;Dog the Bounty Hunter,”; is accused of masturbating while in his truck in the Bank of Hawaii Ala Moana branch's parking lot at about 9 p.m. Jan. 3, 2008. He also was charged with first-degree terroristic threatening, a felony, for allegedly driving his truck at a security guard.

Circuit Judge Richard Perkins dismissed the felony charge, citing the law's definition of the charge as “;intent to terrorize”; and that there needs to be a communication of a threat.

“;These are very specific states of mind,”; said Perkins, who is overseeing the jury-waived trial. “;There is no direct evidence of state of mind.”;

Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Tashima said Chapman could have driven forward instead of to the left, where security guard Jason Wessel was standing, and that the two made eye contact.

However, defense attorney Brook Hart said Chapman could have been looking at Wessel to avoid him, and moved to the left to avoid a newspaper vending machine on the curb.

Perkins said that flight was the likely intent.

“;There is evidence that the defendant was literally caught with his pants down,”; he said.

Chapman turned himself in to police the next day.

Rather than have the terroristic-threatening charge tossed out, Tashima asked for a lesser degree, but Perkins said the use of a vehicle makes it a first-degree case or nothing. If Chapman had made threats with a weapon lesser than a vehicle, the option would have been available, Perkins said.

Chapman, dressed in a suit, smiled when the charge was dismissed. Hart said afterward that he was “;gratified”; by the judge's decision.

Much of yesterday's proceedings keyed in on Chapman's defense - that he was wiping spilled orange juice from his groin area while seated in his pickup.

Mark Hagadone, an organic chemist, ran several exhaustive tests on the pair of buttoned Guess denim jeans Chapman was wearing at the time of the incident.

Hagadone, who runs a private forensics lab in Hawaii, also ran tests on Chapman's sneakers, five baby wipes, a plastic cup and a container of mixed nuts.

In several hours of testimony, Hagadone detailed the methods he used, from examining 42 half-inch squares of denim cut from Chapman's jeans under ultraviolet lighting to smelling the items for its “;damp, stale odor.”;

He concluded that orange juice residue was present on all the items. There were traces of potassium, magnesium and calcium all over his jeans. Hagadone even noted that the orange juice spillage on Chapman's jeans went from left to right.

Chapman's trial continues today. The indecent-exposure charge is punishable by up to 30 days in jail or less.