Jail fire suspect charged

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Daniel Blust appears Wednesday in Hilo District Court.

HILO — A Hilo man was formally charged Tuesday for starting a fire at the old Hilo jail earlier this week.

Daniel J. Blust, 33, faces charges of first-degree arson, burglary, criminal damage to property, unauthorized entry into a vehicle, habitual property crime and two counts of theft, based on an incident that occurred Monday evening.

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Blust, who had been released from jail earlier that day, reportedly broke into an unoccupied building at the Hawaii Criminal Correctional Center and set a fire on the building’s second floor. While there, Blust is also believed to have broken into multiple cars in HCCC’s parking lot and stolen items from within them.

Officers at HCCC apprehended Blust as he was attempting to flee the scene.

Blust made his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon in South Hilo District Court. This marked his second court appearance in three days. He had been convicted of shoplifting, trespassing and contempt of court Monday.

Blust appeared in handcuffs at the judgment of Circuit Judge Peter Bresciani, who said he considered Blust a threat to public safety based on the nature of his offenses. Accordingly, Bresciani set Blust’s bail at $15,500.

Blust’s attorney, Austin Hsu, submitted a motion for an examination of Blust’s well-being to determine whether he is fit to stand trial. The results of that examination will be revealed at a closed hearing on Nov. 14.

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If convicted, Blust faces a charge carrying an indeterminate term of imprisonment of 20 years without the possibility of parole.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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