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Wednesday, October 11, 2000

will be charged
as adult

The youth is expected to face
attempted murder charges in
a Sand Island shooting

By Rod Ohira

Defense witnesses testified Bhima Guru Das cannot recite the alphabet, days of the week or months of the year in order and that the stepbrother he allegedly shot had hired a man to kill him.

But the state portrayed Das as a street-smart youth with access to fake identification cards, living like an adult since he was 16 and mature enough to have unsuccessfully contested a 1998 adult DUI arrest in court.

Das, now 18, was 17 at the time of the shooting in April, and normally would have been tried in Family Court. But Judge Dan Kochi heard 6-1/2 hours of testimony yesterday before waiving Family Court jurisdiction over Das.

Bhima Das

Police expect to charge him with attempted murder for shooting his stepbrother, Mahaprabhu Nijensohn, who is seven years older.

"You have to look at how the minor conducts himself," Kochi said in handing down his ruling.

"He was able to operate by himself without much supervision from his parents."

Kochi pointed out that if Das remained under Family Court jurisdiction, he would have been committed to the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility for less than a year.

"The safety of the community requires judicial restraint beyond 19 years of age," Kochi said.

Das was armed with two guns when he allegedly shot his stepbrother at 1:05 a.m. on April 23 in front of 214 Sand Island Access Road.

Defense attorney Sam King Jr. called William Sabir to testify that Nijensohn allegedly offered him $8,000 to kill Das two weeks before the Sand Island shooting.

Sabir also said he heard Nijensohn threaten and warn Das on the telephone, "You better be strapped," during an argument before the alleged murder-for-hire offer was made.

"I told Maha I'd do it so he wouldn't grab someone else," Sabir said, noting he wanted to protect Das.

Barbara McKenzie, Das' biological mother, testified that Nijensohn physically abused Das from the time he was 4 .

She also said her husband, Jorge Nijensohn, and stepdaughter, Amrita McKenzie, were attacked by her stepson at a Moiliili health food store on the day of the Sand Island shooting.

"Maha told us Bhima is a goner," she said, adding that her stepson says Das stole money from him.

In addition to the attempted-murder charge for the shooting of his stepbrother, Das is being sought for questioning by Big Island police about three other shootings, including one in May at a restaurant in Pahoa.

Honolulu police arrested Das at an Ala Moana apartment on April 26 and recovered firearms and more than $50,000 cash in a safe.

Das is also facing bribery charges related to an incident at the Alder Street detention facility.

Deputy Prosecutor Lynette Lau noted in court yesterday that Das allegedly was planning to escape from the facility and in trying to solicit help, told others: "Don't worry, I have people waiting on the outside. I have guns.'"

The bribe allegedly was offered to a detention facility worker.

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