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Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Witnesses describe
alleged Kauai gunman’s
slaying of neighbor

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE -- Nelson Cuba Jr. said he was bent over in the cab of his pickup truck putting on his shoes when he looked up just in time to see Howard Ikaika Giddens fire a shotgun in his face.

Cuba, who was wounded in the neck and hand, was the first of four witnesses yesterday at a preliminary hearing for Giddens. District Judge Calvin Murashige found there was sufficient evidence to send Giddens to Circuit Court on charges of first-degree and second-degree murder for killing his neighbor, Colan Fernandes, attempted second-degree murder for shooting Cuba, reckless endangerment for firing at another neighbor, Kenneth Emerson, criminal property damage and a firearms violation.

Giddens, 27, has confessed to the shootings on Sept. 18 but said he was only protecting himself from people who were conspiring to kill him.

Yesterday, Giddens refused to look at any of the witnesses as they testified, although he argued with Cuba until Murashige ordered him to be quiet.

"All I was trying to do was shoot your window," Giddens yelled at Cuba. "I not want to shoot you, brah."

"It was so fast," testified Cuba who wore a bandage only on his left wrist. He said he escaped only because the engine in his truck was running and he was able to put it in gear and speed away.

Cuba, who never met Giddens, was shot at Hanamaulu Beach Park, where Cuba lives in a tent. Giddens, who lives in Hanamaulu, was with his girlfriend, Regina Peterson, and their 7-year-old son in the girlfriend's sport utility vehicle. He had Peterson drop him at their house and told them to go to the main Kauai police station in Lihue.

Giddens then walked his neighborhood carrying the shotgun and a backpack full of shells, according to police accounts. Witnesses told police Giddens walked up to his next-door neighbor, Fernandes, who was sitting in his garage waiting for a ride to work, and shot him several times at close range. He then fired at Emerson, who had run behind his car for cover.

Dr. Anthony Manoukian, a pathologist from Maui, said his autopsy showed Fernandes had been shot five times and died of damage to the lungs and heart.

Police Detective Sam Sheldon testified that Giddens told him the two men he shot were members of a group that had been following, videotaping him and planning to kill him. Sheldon said Giddens moved to Kauai a year ago from Oahu and told him people began following him when he was still on Oahu.

Sheldon said Giddens told him he never met Cuba, although he knew he was out to kill him, and although he slightly knew Fernandes, he did not know his name.

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