Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Cigarette dispute led to
killing, says suspect

By Nelson Daranciang

A dispute over a cigarette led to the death of man whose body was found in Nuuanu Stream on Aug. 1, said one of the suspects accused of the slaying.

Pedro Velarde, 18, told police he and Alvin Samau, 18, were drinking beer at the bus stop at River and South Beretania streets when a man asked them for a cigarette, according to a police affidavit filed in Honolulu District Court.

He said the man, who was later identified as Benjamin Amarino, 59, of Honolulu, appeared to be drunk. According to the affidavit, Velarde said when Samau asked the man if he had 25 cents to pay for the cigarette, the man began swearing. Velarde said Samau punched, kicked and hit the man with beer cans and bricks.

Velarde and Samau are charged with second-degree murder. They made their initial court appearances yesterday and remained in custody in lieu of $100,000 bail each.

They are scheduled to appear in court again tomorrow for a preliminary hearing.

A witness told police he saw two suspects yelling at Amarino asking him for money, but, according to the affidavit, Amarino did not seem to be responding. The witness said the man appeared to be intoxicated and was "nodding off."

According to the affidavit, the witness identified Velarde and Samau as the two suspects.

He said both suspects punched the man and the one he later identified as Samau struck the man in the face with his knee.

The witness told police he saw both suspects hit the man with rocks or bricks so hard he could hear the impact of the objects hitting the man's head.

He said the suspects "clotheslined" the man, knocking him into the stream.

When firefighters pulled the body from the water, they discovered severe injuries on the head.

The Honolulu medical examiner determined Amarino drowned after suffering the head injuries.

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