Shooting at golf links described by witness


POSTED: Friday, February 20, 2009

Nixon Maumalanga said he drove Lepo Taliese, Tinoimalu Sao and Romelius Corpuz Jr. to the Pali Golf Course on Jan. 7, 2004, for what he thought was going to be a friendly meeting. But as soon as he saw a gun in the hand of one of the people they were to meet, “I knew this was not a friendly meeting,” he said.

Maumalanga, 35, testified yesterday in federal court in the murder trial of Rodney Joseph Jr. and Ethan “Malu” Motta. Joseph and Motta are also on trial for conspiring to operate and operating an illegal gambling business and racketeering that involved assault with a dangerous weapon, extortion and robbery.

Maumalanga said the man holding the gun was Motta. He said Sao went up to Motta to shake Motta’s hand, “and that’s when he got popped. He got shot.”

He said he saw the gun, saw Sao put both of his arms across his face and heard him yell, “Oh, s—.”

Maumalanga said he turned around, started running and then heard the muffled sound of a gunshot. He said he jumped and slid down an embankment in the golf course parking lot, the fall breaking the buttons to his trousers. He said that when he got back up, his trousers fell to his ankles, so he had to hold them up to continue running.

When he looked back he said he saw Kevin Gonsalves running after him holding what looked like a gun.

Gonsalves, a former co-defendant of Joseph and Motta, pleaded guilty to racketeering last year and is serving a 330-month prison sentence.

Maumalanga said he ran past the clubhouse and onto the golf course, then heard three loud gunshots coming from the clubhouse. He said Taliese was also running on the golf course on an adjacent fairway.

When he caught up to Taliese, he said Taliese told him he had been shot, then collapsed. He said both of them were on their cell phones with 911 operators, asking for an ambulance and police.

Maumalanga said he went back to Taliese and comforted him until an ambulance arrived.

When police arrived and asked Taliese what happened, he said Taliese told them he had been shot five times with a .22-caliber weapon and that the shooters were Ethan Motta and Rodney Joseph.

Taliese and Corpuz died from multiple gunshot wounds. Sao survived a single gunshot wound to his face.