Ex-officer’s assault case delayed: Defense says key witness unavailable

KEALAKEKUA — A death in the family of one witness stalled the trial of a former off-duty police officer two court days before he was scheduled to go to trial.

ADVERTISING


KEALAKEKUA — A death in the family of one witness stalled the trial of a former off-duty police officer two court days before he was scheduled to go to trial.

John Smith, Jr., is charged with second-degree assault and unlawful entry into a motor vehicle. He allegedly assaulted a handcuffed man while he was off-duty on Jan. 9, 2014, in Ocean View.

His attorney, Robert Kim, said during a hearing Friday that one of the key witnesses had gone to the mainland to care for her sister, who has since died of cancer. She will not return until Oct. 8, he said.

“She’s a witness that has exculpatory evidence,” Kim explained.

That is a type of evidence “tending to excuse, justify, or absolve the alleged fault or guilt of a defendant,” the Cornell Legal Information Institute wrote.

The exact type of evidence was not revealed in court.

Chief Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra asked why this motion had come so close to the beginning of trial.

“This court does not like continuances. It is not beneficial for the state, for the defense or for the public,” Ibarra said, noting it’s the third continuance of the trial.

Smith, who no longer works for the Hawaii Police Department, was indicted on Dec. 9, 2014, and the first court date was set for May 19, 2015. Smith is accused of responding to a residence in Ocean View on Jan. 9, 2014, while off duty to assist two other officers on a trespassing report. There, Smith allegedly dragged the suspect by his ponytail, slammed him against a police car and continued to assault him inside the vehicle.

ADVERTISING


Ibarra set the new trial date as Oct. 18, noting “this court has basically no alternative under the law.”

A request to the Hawaii Police Department for Smith’s term of service for the department was not returned by press time Friday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.