Star-Bulletin staff and wire

Coqui frog measure gets noisy reception

The chant of the coqui frog echoed in the state House chamber yesterday, but not from the sound of the pesky amphibian that has overrun communities on the Big Island.

Lawmakers enjoyed a light moment as they debated a proposal to appropriate $2 million to the Big Island for its coqui eradication effort.

Rep. Helen Hale (D, Pahoa-Kalapana) thanked lawmakers for addressing the situation, ending her remarks with a hearty, "KO-KEE!"

Joking aside, Hale's Big island colleague Rep. Clifton Tsuji urged support for the measure.

"This is a very serious problem," said Tsuji (D, Hilo-Glenwood). "It can contaminate and invade the entire state of Hawaii."

The measure passed unanimously by voice vote and now goes to the House Finance Committee before going to the Senate for consideration.

Burial of ancient bones is delayed indefinitely

The reburial of ancestral bones unearthed during the construction of the Wal-Mart complex on Keeaumoku Street scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed indefinitely.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said the retailer was notified Monday by the state Historic Preservation Division that the burial would be postponed due to a "lack of inventory information."

At a meeting of the Oahu Island Burial Council last week, it was discussed that the 44 to 50 sets of bones had not been "reassociated," meaning that the bones, which had been intermixed, had not been sorted into sets belonging to specific individuals.

The archaeologist for Wal-Mart, who is charged with reassociating the bones, told Wal-Mart he had no deadline for reassociation.

2005 Presidents' Team Chess tourney set

The 2005 Presidents' 4x4 Team Scholastic Chess Tournament is set for Monday at the Aliamanu Intermediate Cafeteria.

There will be Elementary, Intermediate and High School divisions, under United States Chess Federation rules. Teams will be made up of four players from the same school.

For information e-mail gpontai@hawaii.rr.com or go to www.hawaiichess.org or www.mililanichess.org.


» Suzanne Murphy of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii has been honored by the American Public Health Association for world-class contributions in dietary guidance formulation, research, education or policy change.

Director of Nutrition Support Shared Resource at the cancer center, Murphy received the Excellence in Dietary Guidance Award at a recent association meeting in Washington, D.C.

She received $500 which she donated to the Doris Calloway Memorial Fund at the University of California-Berkeley, where she did her doctoral work.

Murphy has been a researcher and professor in the Cancer Research Center's epidemiology program since 1999. She is currently involved in research to identify better ways of measuring dietary supplement intakes of subjects in diet and cancer studies.

» The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii's new governing board consists of Stacy Evensen, chairwoman; Anthony Saguibo, vice chairman; Jay Maddock, past chairman; Tina Clothier, fiscal agent; Don Weisman, Hye-ryeon Lee, Stephanie Bell and Ken Miller, committee chairman; Sandy McGuinness, neighbor island coalition representative; Rebecca Phillips, Oahu coalition representative; and LorrieAnn Santos, member-at-large.

Police, Fire, Courts


By Star-Bulletin staff


State workers dodge shots after foiled Big Isle theft

Big Island police are looking for a man who fired shots at three state highway workers yesterday after they allegedly caught him trying to steal a backhoe from a base-yard facility.

The shooting happened about 9 a.m. in the state's gated lot near the 23-mile marker on Hawaii Belt Road in North Kona.

The suspect fled on foot, and the state workers chased him but stopped after he allegedly took out a gun and fired multiple shots at them.

Police conducted an aerial search of the area but had not found him last night.

The suspect is described as being about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing between 175 and 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black shirt and green shorts.

Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call the police nonemergency number at 935-3311.

Anonymous calls can be made to CrimeStoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona.

Driver of trash truck hurt in Big Isle crash

The driver of a Big Island semi-tractor-trailer trash truck was injured yesterday in a crash on Queen Kaahumanu Highway near the 90-mile marker, police said.

The man was taken to Kona Community Hospital, where his condition was reported as non-life-threatening. The second driver involved in the incident was uninjured.

The accident happened about 2:13 p.m. when the refuse truck was traveling north on the highway and a passenger pickup truck made a U-turn in its path.

Police said the trailer sideswiped the pickup and then rolled over, causing both vehicles to rest on their sides. The trucks blocked both lanes of the highways until about 6 p.m.

Big Island Civil Defense volunteers rerouted traffic in the area until the road was reopened.

Maui man suffers burns in house fire

WAILUKU » A Maui man suffered smoke inhalation and minor burns to his face and feet in a house fire Tuesday night, officials said.

Maui Fire Battalion Chief Alan Pascua said the victim, who was the only one in the house at the time, was treated and released from Maui Memorial Medical Center.

The fire, which caused an estimated $140,000 in damage, was caused by a candle burning at the foot of a bed, Pascua said.

Firefighters were called at 7:28 p.m. to 2028 Kaohu St. in Wailuku and took about 22 minutes to control the blaze.


Man finds his mother with her clothes afire

A woman was airlifted to the Queen's Medical Center in critical condition Tuesday after she was found by her son with severe burns in their North Shore home. Fire officials said the call came in about 5:30 p.m. from a Halilo Street address in Waialua. According to firefighters, the son said he found his mother, whose age was not available, sitting in a chair with her clothes on fire.

Fire investigators said the fire likely started from unattended smoking material, though they are still looking into the case. Emergency medical crews said the victim suffered extensive burns covering from 50 to 75 percent of her body.


Out-of-gas stolen car leads to driver's arrest

Police caught a suspected auto thief after the stolen car he was driving ran out of gas near the airport.

About 4:35 a.m. Tuesday, a police officer spotted the vehicle unoccupied near the airport offramp from the Waianae-bound lanes of the H-1 freeway. A check of the license number revealed that the vehicle was reported stolen.

About five minutes later the suspect, a 29-year-old Waianae man, was seen arriving in another vehicle holding a gas can, police said. The suspect told the officer that he had been driving the car when it ran out of gas. He was then arrested on suspicion of auto theft.

Forged money orders lead to woman's arrest

A 34-year-old woman tried to cash $3,000 worth of U.S. Postal Service money orders Monday, according to police.Postal officials discovered all the money orders to be counterfeit, police said. Police were called and arrested the woman for investigation of first-degree forgery.


Police arrest suspect in shooting incident

Police arrested a 20-year-old man Monday in connection with a Feb. 8 shooting at Waimanalo Beach Park.

A man allegedly fired a handgun several times at another man leaving the park in his vehicle, damaging the vehicle's tires. When police arrived they found the victim and his vehicle, but the suspect had fled.

About 11:50 a.m. yesterday, police located the suspect at a Waikupanaha Road address in Waimanalo and arrested him under suspicion of two firearm offenses. According to police, the suspect also faces federal charges.


Man's mental state deemed fit for trial

A Kapahulu man accused of murdering a woman and dumping her body alongside a farm road in Ewa has been found fit to go to trial.

Yesterday, Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario ordered that criminal proceedings against Ronald Howe, 48, resume after a court-appointed panel unanimously found him fit to proceed.

The panel also concluded that at the time of the offense, Howe knew what he did was wrong and could control his actions.

Howe is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Robyn Mae Nakaji, 46, of Kapahulu. She was last seen alive April 22.

Employees of a goat farm on Old Fort Weaver Road discovered Nakaji's body the next day wrapped in a blanket and tarp. Her throat had been cut and she had head injuries.

Police suspect she was murdered over an ounce of marijuana. Nakaji, Howe and his sister, who was also arrested but not charged with Nakaji's murder, apparently were friends. Nakaji was known to frequent Howe's Kapahulu apartment, which he shared with his sister to do drugs.

According to Nakaji's niece, who was also friends with Howe and his sister, they had accused Nakaji of stealing an ounce of marijuana from them several days before she disappeared.

Officer pleads guilty to harassment charges

A police captain accused of abusing his girlfriend has pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

Capt. Ray Ancheta, a 22-year police veteran, entered his pleas to two counts of harassment, a petty misdemeanor, last Thursday before District Judge Leslie Hayashi.

He was arrested Jan. 14 on suspicion of two counts of abuse of a household member, a misdemeanor, after his girlfriend told police of earlier, unreported incidents of him abusing her. Earlier that day, police had arrested the girlfriend, Veronica Trombley, for allegedly abusing him after responding to reports of an argument at her Waikiki apartment.

Upon reviewing the case, prosecutors reclassified the charges against Ancheta as harassment, punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and 30 days in jail.

Defense attorney Gilbert Doles said Ancheta will seek a deferral of his guilty plea. Deputy Prosecutor Rich Stacey objected to a deferral. Hayashi ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set a hearing on the motion for April 14. She also ordered Ancheta to have no contact with Trombley.

After his arrest, Ancheta was reassigned to a nonsupervisory position at police headquarters.

Kumu hula free on bail after California arrest

HILO » Well-known Big Island hula instructor Ray Fonseca has been freed on bail after being returned from California to Hawaii to face trial.

Fonseca, 51, was indicted in December for first-degree negligent homicide and operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant for a 2003 traffic crash that claimed the life of Michael Spens of Mountain View.

Fonseca had been held on bail after being arrested in San Francisco on Jan. 12. He posted $5,250 bail after being brought back to Hawaii on Sunday.

Fonseca is accused of being the driver of a sport utility vehicle that collided head-on with a mo-ped driven by Spens in the Eden Roc Estates subdivision. Spens died the next day at Hilo Medical Center.

Fonseca is the kumu hula of Halau Hula 'O Kahikilaulani of Hilo. The halau is a regular competitor in the annual Merrie Monarch program in Hilo.

E-mail to City Desk


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