‘Voices’ told suspect
to hit officer

The defense cites mental illness
in the attempted murder case

A man accused of running down a Honolulu police officer with a stolen van late last year claims "voices" were telling him what to do.


Daniel Vesper: He allegedly drove into a group of police officers Dec. 2, injuring one of them

Daniel Vesper, 43, charged with first-degree attempted murder in the Dec. 2 incident, contends he began hearing voices after he was struck in the head with a golf club and knocked unconscious in a November 2004 robbery, according to court documents.

Officer Jeffrey Omai, part of a Crime Reduction Unit searching for Vesper on unrelated offenses, suffered head and internal injuries when Vesper allegedly accelerated toward a group of officers in the parking lot of Honolulu Community College, striking him.

Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall appointed a psychiatrist and two psychologists last month at the request of the defense to examine Vesper to determine his fitness to go to trial, and whether he was substantially impaired by any mental or physical disease.

Vesper was scheduled for trial this week in Circuit Court, but all proceedings have been suspended until a May 9 hearing to determine whether he is sane enough to proceed.

Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter said he expects the examination to show that Vesper was legally responsible for his conduct at the time he ran over Omai.

Vesper has a history of mental illness and had been seeing a psychiatrist for about six months prior to the offenses, defense attorney Jeffrey Hawk said in court documents. Vesper was housed at the Oahu Community Correctional Center following his arrest, and was placed under suicide watch at the time. He told his attorney that he still hears voices from time to time.

Omai is still recovering from his injuries, but is expected to return to work, a police spokeswoman said.

A judge in December ordered Vesper held without bail after prosecutors argued he was a danger to the community and a flight risk based on the seriousness of the offenses and the potential penalties he faces.

Vesper was on probation for auto theft, reckless driving and resisting an order to stop when he allegedly ran over Omai and allegedly committed two other robberies over a 12-day period.

He is accused of carjacking a newspaper carrier Dec. 1, pulling her out of her van and slamming her to the ground, and the next day hitting a student at the University of Hawaii with a bat and stealing his moped.

Police said that after Vesper was arrested, officers escorting him to the Queen's Medical Center for treatment overheard him telling a nurse he had run over an officer. "F--- the cop, I hope he dies," a detective quoted Vesper as saying.

He also allegedly told police that he saw Omai in the parking lot and wasn't going to stop, and if he could do it again he would.

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