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In Brief | Big Island & State | 5-13-14

May 13, 2014 - 12:05am

Booth fit for trial

Three doctors submitted reports to the 3rd Circuit Court concurring that Martin Frank Booth is mentally fit to proceed to trial on a variety of criminal charges. Judge Elizabeth Strance received the reports in court Monday morning.

Strance set Booth’s trial for September.

Booth is facing charges of meth trafficking, eight counts of promoting dangerous drugs, promoting controlled substances near a school, three counts of promoting detrimental drugs, three counts of possessing drug paraphernalia, six firearm offenses and terroristic threatening.

Strance last month revoked Booth’s bail.

Man charged in stabbing

Police have charged a Kaʻu man with attempted murder and other offenses in connection with a stabbing Saturday afternoon near a beach park in Hilo.

After conferring with prosecutors, detectives charged Paul Gibson, 46, of Ocean View with attempted second-degree murder, third-degree assault, two counts of terroristic threatening, five firearms offenses, resisting an order to stop and failure to provide a DNA sample.

His bail was set at $374,000. He remains at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for today.

Saturday afternoon, South Hilo Patrol officers responded to a report of a stabbing off Keaukaha Road near 4-Mile Beach Park in the Keaukaha area.

When officers arrived, they learned that a 41-year-old Hilo man had sustained multiple stab wounds to the back during an altercation with another man. The victim was en route to the hospital in a private vehicle when the vehicle came upon responding Fire Department rescue personnel, who transported him to Hilo Medical Center in critical but stable condition.

Gibson was located six minutes later on Laukapu Street in Hilo. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

Boat owner cited for reef damage

The owner of a 47-foot sailing vessel has been cited for damage its anchor chain caused to a coral reef.

About 80 feet of chain was in the water, with about 30 to 40 feet in the coral at Kailua Bay, according to the state Department of Natural Resources, which cited the owner May 2.

A swimmer photographed and reported the damage to a DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation security officer at Kailua Pier. The officer notified the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, which investigated the damage.

The boat owner did not have a mooring permit.

DLNR didn’t identify the owner in a press release.

According to court records, the boat owner’s arraignment and plea is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 22 in 3rd District Court, the department said.

Police arrest 20 drivers for DUI

Police arrested 20 drivers for allegedly driving under the influence of an intoxicant May 5 through Sunday. Four of the drivers were involved in traffic crashes. One was younger than 21.

So far this year, there have been 465 DUI arrests compared with 481 during the same period last year, a 3.3 percent decrease.

There have been 586 major accidents so far this year compared with 499 during the same period last year, a 17.4 percent increase.

So far this year, there have been five traffic fatalities on Hawaii Island compared with 13 during the same period last year, a 61.5 percent decline.

To date, one fatality was related to drugs and two were related to a combination of drugs and alcohol.

DUI roadblocks and patrols will continue islandwide.

Hee enters Lt. Gov. race

HONOLULU — State Sen. Clayton Hee has announced he will run for lieutenant governor, challenging incumbent Shan Tsutsui in the primary.

The Democrat who represents Kaneohe, Oahu, made the announcement Sunday.

Hee serves as chairman of the Judiciary and Labor Committee. He has been a strong advocate for raising the minimum wage.

This isn’t Hee’s first time running for lieutenant governor. He ran unsuccessfully in 2002. Before that, Hee served as a state representative from 1982-1984 and as a state senator from 1984-1988. He also served in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs from 1990-2002.

Organizers suspend effort to open shelter

HOOLEHUA, Maui — Organizers trying to bring Molokai its first open-admission animal shelter are suspending their efforts after problems with expensive real estate and permitting.

The Maui News reported that staff members of Shields Animal Shelter Foundation will no longer pursue the shelter after spending two years and more than $200,000 in travel and other expenses.

Debi Buechel, the foundation’s executive director, said the cheapest suitable property was $600,000 and state and local regulations would mean delays.

“Even if we did find a place, it would be another five years before we could even put up a building,” Buechel said.

Buechel was pursuing the shelter in honor of a friend, Kathleen Shields, who died in 2009 and left an endowment to start the foundation. Shields frequently visited Molokai and requested in her will that the money be used for the shelter on the island.

Buechel said she pursued county funding to help get the shelter up and running. But she was told it was unlikely because most Maui County funds for animals go to the Maui Humane Society, which operates the county’s only open-admission shelter. Maui County includes three islands.

Officials for the state and local humane societies say the shelter is needed in a state where animal abandonment is a problem, but establishing one is difficult to make work on an island with about 7,000 people.

Buechel said she hopes she can make it work someday, but she can’t justify spending more of the foundation’s money when other places need help.

“We’re not giving up,” she said. “If things change and the economy changes, maybe in a few years things will be better on Molokai and I’ll have an opportunity to find a piece of property.”

OHA CEO moving forward after letter

HONOLULU — The chief executive of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs said Monday he’s moving forward after a disagreement with the organization’s trustees over seeking clarification on the legal status of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

But CEO Kamanaopono Crabbe told reporters Monday he stands behind a letter he sent to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week that sought a legal opinion on whether the kingdom continues to exist under international law.

“I continue to believe my decision to send the letter was in the best interest of OHA and the beneficiaries we serve,” Crabbe said.

The request revealed divisions within the state agency that has a mission of protecting Native Hawaiians and perpetuating Hawaiian culture.

Women inmates lost Mother’s Day visits

HONOLULU — Inmates at Hawaii’s women’s prison weren’t able to visit with their children on Mother’s Day because not enough guards showed up for work.

The state Department of Public Safety has been struggling with guards calling in sick and other time-off abuses that have frequently forced the cancellation of family visits at various Hawaii prisons.

Department spokeswoman Toni Schwartz says nine out of 29 officers assigned for duty came to work on Sunday at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua.

But an organization that helps families affected by incarceration hosted a kids’ day at the prison on Saturday, where 24 inmates spent time with their children.

Schwartz says scheduled visits for two of the facility’s four cottages were held on Saturday.

She says two-thirds of about 250 inmates are mothers.

Ag data shows more land farmed in Hawaii

HONOLULU — The number of acres under cultivation at farms in Hawaii has increased for the first time in at least three decades.

U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows Hawaii farmers put 8,000 more acres into production between 2007 and 2012.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports the gain is relatively small but significant given that 180,000 acres was lost during the prior five-year period.

Hawaii’s farmed land area has declined by about 800,000 acres since 1982.

The new growth occurred largely on Oahu, where about 8,700 additional acres were farmed. There also were increases on Maui and Hawaii island, which each gained about 3,000 acres of farmed land. Kauai suffered a loss of 7,400 acres.

Overall, about 1.13 million acres are now being farmed in Hawaii.

By local and wire sources