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2 found not guilty of assaulting palace staffer


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POSTED: Saturday, August 15, 2009

A state jury deliberated less than two hours yesterday before finding two men not guilty of assaulting an Iolani Palace employee last summer during a palace break-in.

“;I think (the jurors) had their minds made up already when they went in the deliberation room,”; said Donald Alfred Love-Boltz, 74, one of the two men charged with second-degree assault.

Friends of Iolani Palace facilities manager Betty Jean Noelani Ah Yuen had testified earlier that Love-Boltz, Robert Roggasch, 74, and another man struck her several times with an iron gate, causing pain to her neck and back.

Roggasch said the state never questioned him about what happened.

“;I knew I didn't hit anybody, and I testified (Thursday) that I didn't hit anybody,”; he said.

Love-Boltz chose not to testify in his own defense.

He said yesterday that Ah Yuen went to open the one gate a group calling itself Kingdom of Hawaii, Nation, did not lock with chains. Another man from the group pushed it closed and held it closed as Ah Yuen tried to push it open, he said.

Prosecution witnesses had differing accounts of who did what at the gate. Defense witnesses testified they did not see anyone hit Ah Yuen with the gate.

The state Department of the Attorney General prosecuted the case.

“;We're disappointed but we respect the jury's decision,”; said Chris Young, supervisor of the department's Criminal Justice Division.

The Attorney General Department also prosecuted the leader of the group, James Akahi, self-proclaimed heir to the Hawaiian throne, in an earlier trial for second-degree burglary for entering the palace in the same incident Aug. 15 last year. The jury found him guilty of simple trespass, a violation punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

A state judge had earlier dismissed the burglary charges against six others who entered the palace with Akahi.

The incident sparked internal investigations by the state and the Honolulu Police Department because a police sergeant allegedly witnessed Ah Yuen being assaulted but did not intervene because he said the palace grounds fell under state, not HPD, jurisdiction.

The sergeant testified at trial that he did not see anyone assault Ah Yuen.

Roggasch believes the state prosecuted him because he supports Akahi's claim, which challenges the state's legitimacy.