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Witness to killing saw punches drop victim


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POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Four knockout punches to the head felled a man who intervened to stop a fight in Waikiki, a witness testified yesterday in a Circuit Court murder trial.

The man, Ned Nakoa Jr., 58, fell to the ground unconscious, at which point defendant Kelii Acasia kicked him as if punting a football, said Marcus Perry, the prosecution's first witness.

Deputy Prosecutor Charlene Ikeda said Nakoa's head snapped back, tearing an artery in his neck. An ambulance took Nakoa to the Queen's Medical Center, where he died.

Acasia, 20, is facing a second-degree murder charge for causing Nakoa's death on May 18 in Waikiki.

Nakoa had intervened as Acasia and Benjamin Pada, 19, were fighting with a Kaneohe Marine. Pada had snatched the Marine's girlfriend's purse and then struck the Marine on the head with a wrench.

Defense attorney Keith Shigetomi said Acasia punched Nakoa once. In his opening statement, he said Nakoa was drunk, with a blood-alcohol content more than 2.5 times the legal threshold for driving drunk.

“;Kelii Acasia had to protect his girlfriend and himself from a drunk who had just hit his pregnant girlfriend,”; he said.

Perry said he did not see Nakoa strike Acasia's girlfriend and that all Nakoa did was to try to stop Acasia from fighting.

Pada pleaded guilty in February to second-degree robbery and second-degree assault. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.