Prosecutor says drug
theft led to woman’s
brutal death

The victim's horrifying
last moments are told
as one trial begins

By Rosemarie Bernardo

A defense attorney says Delaneo Puha did not intend to participate in the killing of Tracey Tominaga in January 2002.

Puha went to Makakilo to help Jason Perry get information from Tominaga, said Puha's attorney Reginald Minn.

A man had taken drugs from Perry that belonged to Puha during a confrontation three days earlier, Minn said.

"Bottom line is, he got robbed, he got ripped off," Minn said. "There was some vague idea that they were going to do something but not thinking they were going to kill somebody."

"It was really Jason Perry and Ryan Onuma who got carried away and ended up murdering her," he said.

Attorneys gave opening statements yesterday before Circuit Judge Karen Ahn in Puha's trial on charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, attempted assault in the second degree and hindering prosecution in the first degree.

Tominaga was reported missing on Jan. 25, 2002. Her body was found 10 weeks later when Ryan Onuma told a detective what led to her killing. Tominaga's body was found on April 2, 2002, in a shallow grave on a steep slope in Makakilo.

Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter gave jurors a detailed account of what led to Tominaga's killing.

Tominaga told a friend that Perry had pursued her sexually and she told him she was not interested.

Tominaga called Perry to come to her Kapahulu home on Jan. 18, 2002, when a friend pointed a shotgun at Perry and warned him not to pursue Tominaga any further, Van Marter said. During the encounter, Tominaga and her friend took crystal methamphetamine worth $300 from Perry, he said.

He said Perry wanted to retaliate against Tominaga. Puha, Perry's main drug supplier, was informed of the encounter with Tominaga and her friend, Van Marter said.

"It was Delaneo Puha's drugs that was stolen," he said.

On Jan. 21, Perry went to Tominaga's home and deceived her into riding with him to Makakilo. As soon as they reached the back of a remote cabin on Palehua Road, Tominaga was surrounded by seven men who included Puha, Van Marter said. Puha struck her twice with a pipe when the other men started kicking, slapping and punching Tominaga for about 45 minutes to find out who threatened Perry.

Tominaga was handcuffed, and her legs, eyes and mouth were bound with tape when Perry started to strangle her, Van Marter said. Puha "grabbed her crotch and laughed" as Perry continued to strangle her, he said.

Her body was wrapped in a tarp, carried down the mountain and buried in a ravine.

Van Marter said Puha assisted in burning Tominaga's belongings and the tarp she was wrapped in.

"This is all because she stole his drugs," he said.

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