Man charged with murder in shooting


POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2008

LIHUE » Payton Allen Rapozo made his first court appearance yesterday after being charged with murder in the death of Antonio Torres, his mother's boyfriend.

Rapozo, 22, of Kapaa, has been charged with second-degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

In 2007, Rapozo had been charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but was convicted of lesser charges.

He is being held in the Kauai Community Correctional Center in lieu of $1 million bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. tomorrow, but court officials were having a difficult time finding Rapozo a lawyer.

The Public Defender's Office, who represented him yesterday, had to declare a conflict, since half the list of potential witnesses are clients of the office, said Deputy Public Defender Dina Renti-Cruz. A number of other local attorneys had also represented potential witnesses.

On Sunday afternoon, Rapozo allegedly fired a .22-caliber handgun at Torres, 43, after a domestic dispute at a home on Kawaihau Road. He was subdued by relatives before police arrived, according to county officials.

After another domestic dispute in 2007, Rapozo doused a responding police officer with gasoline and attempted to set him on fire with a lighter, according to court documents. He was originally charged in that case with attempted murder, but pleaded guilty to assault and terroristic threatening.

Citing Rapozo's age, state of mind, and his lack of an adult criminal record, Judge Kathleen Watanabe sentenced him to a year in prison, plus five years' probation.

Officers associated with the case said at the time it appeared Rapozo was depressed and was looking for police to shoot him. Officer Chris Candeza was applauded for his restraint in the case.

The lenient sentence “;was a shock”; to prosecutors at the time, especially since they had asked for 10 years, County Prosecutor Craig DeCosta said yesterday.