Man charged in Puna murder

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HILO — A 34-year-old man faces numerous charges in connection with the shooting death of a Puna man.

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HILO — A 34-year-old man faces numerous charges in connection with the shooting death of a Puna man.

Hilo police detectives on Thursday charged Eric James Fontes Jr., of no permanent address, with second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, being a felon in possession of a firearm and second-degree theft.

According to Lt. Greg Esteban, dental records identified a body found Saturday off Beach Road in lower Puna as 59-year-old Barton Allen Bumatay, who had been missing from his Hawaiian Paradise Park home since New Year’s Eve.

Bumatay had been shot in the head, according to an autopsy. Remains were found at two locations off Beach Road.

Fontes was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon by police after officers executed a search warrant on a home on East Palai Street in the Panaewa area of Hilo.

The victim was an automobile mechanic who ran a repair shop from his warehouse-like home in Hawaiian Paradise Park. When Bumatay went missing, police noted in a bulletin he may have been driving a 2007 black Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck.

“The second-degree theft charges stems from the theft of … the 2007 Chevy Colorado,” Esteban said. “It was recovered (Wednesday) in Mountain View. We have information that at some point in time, after the homicide, the suspect was in possession of the vehicle.”

Fontes also was indicted Wednesday by a Hilo grand jury with second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and drug paraphernalia from a case initiated Oct. 22, 2014.

A police spokeswoman said 6.9 grams of methamphetamine packaged in three zip packs and a smoking pipe were found in a fanny pack belonging to Fontes at the Hilo police station. She said police obtained a search warrant for the fanny pack after Fontes was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and terroristic threatening.

He was released pending further investigation, and the kidnapping and terroristic threatening cases were sent to prosecutors in May 2015, she said. Those charges have not been filed.

Fontes has a lengthy criminal record, with 34 convictions dating back to 2001. Eleven of those convictions are for felonies, including theft, forgery, violating terms of release and domestic abuse. He also has misdemeanor convictions for terroristic threatening, impersonating a police officer and violating a protective order.

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Fontes’ total bail is $725,000, and he remains in custody pending his initial court date scheduled for today.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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