Accused gunman was free on bail at time of shooting


POSTED: Thursday, April 02, 2009

The second defendant in this weekend's murder in Chinatown was free on bail awaiting sentencing for felony drug promotion at the time of the shooting, according to state court records.

Honolulu police charged Zorro Ramon Rye yesterday with second-degree murder in the shooting death Saturday of 35-year-old Joseph Maululu Peneueta. Police also charged Rye with using a firearm to commit the crime, first-degree terroristic threatening and carrying a firearm without a permit.

Rye, 24, turned himself in Tuesday at the main police station. He remains in custody, unable to post $1 million bail. He was scheduled to appear this morning in Honolulu District Court.

Rye pleaded guilty last November to possessing at least an ounce of cocaine, a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but remained free on $35,000 bail pending sentencing.

Police arrested him for driving a stolen car and drug-promotion charges on March 13, 2008, near the Nuuanu Avenue/Pauoa Road intersection, according to Honolulu Police Department records. He did not give police a local address.

According to state court records, he was supposed to be sentenced in state court Jan. 20. At his lawyer's request, the judge postponed the hearing for a day, over the state's objection.

The following day, Rye's lawyer said his client was enrolled in a Salvation Army substance-abuse treatment program and asked the judge to reschedule the hearing. Over the state's objection, the judge rescheduled sentencing to March 11.

At the March hearing, the defense lawyer said Rye was enrolled in a different drug- treatment program. The judge said the program was not court-certified and rescheduled sentencing for next Wednesday, over the state's objection, to give Rye the opportunity to enroll in a court-certified program, according to state court records.

Police said a witness identified Rye and Iosefa Meafua Pasene as the gunmen in Saturday's shooting. The witness said they were the only two occupants of a car that arrived before the shooting and left after it. Other witnesses identified Pasene as the gunman who fired shots from an assault weapon.

Police charged Pasene on Tuesday. He appeared in Honolulu District Court yesterday.