Iolani Palace burglary trial hinges on suspect's intent


POSTED: Thursday, July 30, 2009

The burglary trial of self-proclaimed heir to the Hawaiian kingdom James Akahi hinges on whether he intended to commit another crime when he and six of his followers allegedly broke into Iolani Palace on Admission Day last year.

Of the seven who entered the palace on Aug. 15, Akahi is the only one on trial for second-degree burglary. Circuit Judge Richard Pollack reduced the charges for the other six defendants to second-degree criminal trespass, a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail.

The state is appealing Pollack's ruling.

Two others are awaiting trial for allegedly assaulting a palace employee.

Second-degree burglary is a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison. According to state law, a person commits burglary in the second degree by intentionally entering or remaining in a building with the intent to commit a crime against a person or property.

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Henry Nobriga, an investigator with the state Department of the Attorney General, testified yesterday that after he and other law enforcement officers removed Akahi and his followers from the palace, Akahi indicated why he was there.

“;He said he had a right to be there. He was the next heir to the throne. And that he just wanted to go in there and chain himself to the throne, but they got lost,”; Nobriga said.

Nobriga also said he saw the same kind of chain Akahi's followers used to secure the palace grounds' gates inside a knapsack near the doors to the palace. But when he went back for it, the bag was gone.

Under questioning from Akahi's lawyer, Nobriga said he did not mention Akahi's intention to chain himself to the throne nor the knapsack in his written report six days after the break-in. It was a month later when he mentioned them in a written declaration.