Suspect in beating death
charged with murder

Ulutunu Faumuina Jr.: Survived a fire in 1997 that killed seven family members

Police charged Ulutunu Faumuina Jr., 23, with second-degree murder yesterday in the beating death of a 26-year-old Waipahu man.

Faumuina and at least two other suspects, who have not been caught, allegedly punched and kicked Mikiala "Keola" Kahalewai for urinating in his truck parked on Kona Street near the Pachinko Karaoke bar about 2 a.m. Monday.

"It was a senseless, unnecessary murder," said Kahalewai's mother, who he lived with. "They took advantage of my son when his pants was halfway down, when he was urinating. He was vulnerable."

Melvamae Kahalewai received a call shortly after 2 a.m. from her son's friends and caught the bus from Waipahu to the Queen's Medical Center. When she arrived, hospital personnel released no information. She waited in the hall until she received word he died.

Kahalewai described her son as "the main man in my life," a good person who assumed the role of father for his younger siblings, made sure they got to school, did their chores and helped them with homework.

In 1997, Faumuina, then 16 years old, and his mother were the only survivors of a Palolo house fire that killed seven family members in the deadliest residential fire in Honolulu history.

Fire investigators said the cause of the fire was apparently electrical in nature, after Faumuina directed them to an outlet that allegedly started the blaze. Faumuina had fallen asleep in a storage area under the house listening to a radio plugged into the outlet through an extension cord. He told investigators he awoke to find a nearby pile of clothes on fire. Faumuina's father, brother, sister and brother-in-law, and their three children died in the fire.

The family sued the city, landlords, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply and the manufacturer of a fire hydrant that failed to operate on the night of the fire.

The family settled the case with the city last year and had reached confidential settlements with the other defendants.


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