Awaiting appeal, man faces unrelated charge

  • Joel White consults with his defense attorney, William Harrison, at a bail hearing in Circuit Court on Friday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Joel White appears at a bail hearing in Circuit Court on Friday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KEALAKEKUA — A Waimea man convicted of attempted murder in 2015 is still waiting for the appellate court to rule on granting a new trial after a 3rd Circuit Court judge ruled against the jury’s decision.

Joel White has been out on bail since 2014 when he was first charged in the stabbing of Jeremy Nicholas at a Waikoloa residence. After a weeklong trial, Judge Ronald Ibarra determined instructions given to the jury were insufficient and overturned their ruling. The prosecutor’s office is appealing that decision.

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White, meanwhile, was again brought into custody after a bench warrant for $10,000 was issued for his arrest in December. According to court documents, the Waimea man violated the conditions of his bail by committing a crime.

The alleged violation stems from a July 29, 2017, incident where White is being charged with second-degree terroristic threatening. He is ordered to appear in District Court on Feb. 15 for an arraignment and plea.

On Friday, White appeared before 3rd Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim for a motion to revoke release on bail where Deputy Prosecutor Kate Deleon called two witnesses from July’s incident to support her motion.

The first witness told the court White came to his residence at Kona Coffee Villas on July 29, lifted up his shirt and said, “Hey, buddy.” When White lifted up his shirt, the witness testified, he saw a black rectangular object that he believed to be the handle to a gun or knife.

At that point, the witness stated he closed the door and called police.

“I thought he was going to stab me or shoot me,” he told the court.

The witness testified that White had been calling him and threatening him for days prior to the incident.

“He said he was going to kill me and stab me in the back,” he stated.

White’s attorney, William Harrison, confirmed with the witness that the witness was unable to obtain a restraining order against his client at the time.

Hawaii County Police Officer Kyung Yu also testified about the incident. He told the court he recovered a knife off White that night.

“I asked him why he had the knife and he said he always carries one and that one carries sentimental value,” Yu said.

During an interview with White at the scene, Yu testified that the Waimea man told him he was checking on the welfare of an ex-girlfriend who hadn’t contacted him in a few days. He became concerned when the woman hadn’t been in contact with her friends or family.

Yu didn’t recall the witness reporting previous threats made by White. He added that neither of two other individuals at the scene saw White display a knife.

After hearing testimony from witnesses and arguments from counsel, Kim ruled to deny the motion to revoke release on bail.

Kim said he didn’t find clear and convincing evidence in the testimonies presented, as there was conflicting evidence.

“I will cancel the bail on warrant but I’ll tell you this, I’m concerned,” Kim said to White.

White was released from custody.

Deleon said she was disappointed by Kim’s ruling, but respected the court’s decision.

Harrison said White has done everything to abide by his bail conditions, however the state has tried to catch him on violation a couple other times, “which were bogus.”

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Harrison said they are now just waiting for the appeals court to agree with Ibarra’s decision, which he said it should.

During the 2015 weeklong trial before Ibarra, witnesses testified Nicholas was stabbed five times in the back in Nicholas’ Waikoloa home in April 2014 and received a cut to his throat. Harrison said White acted in self-defense.

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