Man guilty of assault
in beating of visitor

The conviction is the first among
three men on trial for the attack

A Circuit Court jury found a 20-year-old man guilty yesterday of first-degree assault in what prosecutors described as the "savage" beating of a 21-year-old California visitor.

Christopher Hicks, of Pearl City, was one of three men charged with second-degree attempted murder for beating and kicking Ivan Kaloyanov near the Hawai'i Convention Center in May, leaving him in a coma for several days.

Had Hicks been convicted of attempted murder, he would have faced mandatory life in prison without parole. The lesser charge of first-degree assault is punishable by 10 years in prison or on probation. He will be sentenced May 11.

Deputy public defender Walter Rodby said Hicks was thankful the jury returned with the reduced charge. He will ask that Hicks be placed on probation, since he has no prior arrests.

Deputy Prosecutor Barry Kemp said Hicks admitted to attacking Kaloyanov, punching him twice in the face and kicking him once in the neck. But Kemp said he has reason to believe Hicks had done more, based on witness statements indicating that all three defendants were kicking Kaloyanov.

At trial, Rodby said Hicks acknowledged he struck Kaloyanov three times but did not intend to kill him.

The attack on Kaloyanov allegedly stemmed from an altercation earlier between him and a third defendant, Johnston Kapua, outside the Blue Tropix nightclub on Kapiolani Boulevard. Kapua allegedly head-butted Kaloyanov, who may have been trying to "pick up" the girlfriend of Kapua's nephew and her friend outside the club.

Kapua goes to trial March 22.

Prosecutors said Kapua, Solomon Kahalewai and Hicks circled the convention center area three times in a PT Cruiser before spotting Kaloyanov on Atkinson Drive and attacking him. A friend who was with Kaloyanov escaped.

Hicks was tried along with co-defendant Kahalewai, 24, by two juries -- one panel for each of the defendants. Kahalewai's jury is still deliberating.

Both defendants allegedly made statements implicating themselves and each other. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a defendant is deprived of the Sixth Amendment right to confront an accuser when the confession of a co-defendant who decides not to testify is admitted as evidence.

The cases were tried by city prosecutors but held in U.S. District Court because the courtroom can accommodate two juries simultaneously.


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