Court records detail grisly
Big Isle drug-related killing

By Rod Thompson

HILO >> A teenager was high on cocaine and wanted more drugs when he allegedly killed a Japanese student in Hilo last year because the student would not give him money from an automated teller machine, court records show.

Jury selection in the trial of Michael Verece, 17, for the Feb. 18, 2001, murder of Tetsuya Takahashi, 20, of Japan, is set to begin Monday.

Takahashi was a student at the University of Hawaii-Hilo and worked for free at a dive shop to get diving lessons.

Dive shop owner Thane Milhoan described him as "the best employee that I have ever had."

Takahashi was "extremely polite, almost polite to a fault," Milhoan told a grand jury. He testified that he doubted Takahashi used drugs.

The day after Takahashi's body was found, police arrested Verece, then 16, near Hilo Airport, apparently trying to leave the island.

The case was transferred to Circuit Court after Family Court waived jurisdiction over Verece so he could be tried as an adult.

Court records show Verece told at least five people he killed Takahashi.

Verece's former girlfriend Jackie Overturf, 31 at the time, told police she found Verece crying. He said, "I killed him," she told police.

Overturf's mother, Marie, told police Verece was "flying" on drugs on the night of the killing.

She drove Verece and Takahashi around Hilo late at night on Feb. 17, 2001, as Verece looked for cocaine.

Detective Richard Miyamoto told a grand jury it is not clear how Takahashi knew Verece.

Marie Overturf told Miyamoto she heard Verece "whack" Takahashi while in her van and saw him holding Takahashi in a headlock. She dropped them off.

Jackie Overturf said Verece told her that he demanded Takahashi get more money from an ATM, and Takahashi tore up his ATM card, angering Verece more, according to a report by Miyamoto.

"She stated that the reason that Michael wanted all of this money was because he just wanted to buy more and more drugs to get higher and higher," Miyamoto wrote.

Verece and Takahashi drove to Keaau, south of Hilo, where Verece stabbed Takahashi several times, Jackie Overturf said.

Takahashi started "gurgling," she said Verece told her, and then Verece "smashed" Takahashi in the head three times with a rock.

Judge Riki May Amano was to hear pretrial motions today. They include a defense motion to throw out the indictment for murder, kidnapping and robbery because of allegedly improper hearsay testimony, and a prosecution motion to dismiss defense attorney Brian De Lima because of a possible conflict of interest.

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