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Murder defendant convicted of assault


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POSTED: Friday, May 01, 2009

A man who was on trial for murder faces a maximum one year in prison after being convicted of a misdemeanor for his role in the beating death of a man who urinated in his truck.

It took the jury of eight women and four men one day to find 28-year-old Ulutunu Faumuina Jr. guilty of third-degree assault in the death of Mikiala Kahalewai, 26, on April 19, 2004.

Faumuina was charged with second-degree murder, which carries a penalty of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

“;They probably realized there was some forensic evidence that gave reasonable doubt as to the injuries that were caused by Ulu as opposed to other people involved,”; said Howard Luke, Faumuina's lawyer.

Faumuina's co-defendant, John Wilfred Penitani, 29, was also on trial for second-degree murder. He agreed to plead guilty to second-degree assault last week. Second-degree assault is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Deputy Prosecutor Kory Young said an accumulation of blows to Kahalewai's head caused his death, and blood on Faumuina's shoes indicates he kicked and/or stomped on Kahalewai's head outside Pachinko Karaoke bar on Kona Street.

“;We're shocked that essentially by saying assault in the third degree (the jurors) found that the defendant attacked Mr. Kahalewai with his feet but did not contribute to his death,”; he said.

Luke said Faumuina's truck is a memorial to his father, Ulutunu Faumuina Sr., who died trying to save family members from a burning house in Palolo in 1997. The truck's license plate says “;4ULU.”;

Seven family members died in the fire. Only Ulutunu Jr. and his mother survived.

Luke said Faumuina did not say anything to him after the verdict was read.

“;He hugged me. He was crying. And I think that was far more eloquent than anything he could have said with words,”; Luke said.