KAILUA-KONA – A District Court judge increased bail to $200,000 for an Ocean View man accused of injuring an Alaska woman during an alleged domestic attack last week in Ka’u.
The court addressed the matter of bail for Vincent Nelson, 40, after the preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon. Deputy Prosecutor Annaliese H. Wolf said her concern was the defendant was a flight risk.
Wolf’s motion, filed about an hour before the hearing, also indicates Nelson is a danger to the community and the “injury to the victim may terminate in death.”
Public defender Rick Macapinlac objected to the motion because of its late filing.
“We’d object on due process,” he said.
District Court Judge Margaret Masunaga ruled to increase Nelson’s bail from $27,000 to $200,000.
Nelson has been charged with abuse of a family or household member and first-degree assault in connection to an incident that occurred with his girlfriend in the Hawaiian Ranchos subdivision area on Friday.
Last week, the 40-year-old woman was flown to The Queen’s Medical Center in critical condition. As of Wednesday morning, officials say she was still intubated with limited recovery.
During the preliminary hearing, an emergency room physician from Kona Community Hospital described to the court the victim’s condition and injuries when she arrived around noon.
“When I saw her, EMS had put a tube down her throat for her to breathe,” McCandless said.
McCandless testified the victim had blunt force trauma to the side of her head. In scanning her head, doctors discovered blood between her brain and skull, causing movement and swelling of the brain.
Other injuries McCandless observed were bruises on her arms and leg as well as abrasions to her lower back.
When asked if the injuries were something one would expect from a fall, the physician stated it was unusual.
“But I couldn’t say one way or the other,” McCandless stated to the court.
McCandless said the victim’s toxicology report came back negative for alcohol, but positive for methamphetamine and marijuana.
Hawaii Police Department Officer Gavin Heyworth also took the stand. He testified he was called to the hospital on a report of an unconscious woman.
When he arrived at the emergency room, Heyworth said hospital staff informed him the victim had a traumatic injury. At that point he worked to determine her identity.
“I realized pretty quickly how severe the injuries were,” the officer stated. “I also know injuries don’t just spontaneously appear.”
Heyworth told the court he learned two people were waiting for the victim; one of those individuals was Nelson. It was through them the officer learned of the victim’s identity.
While talking with Nelson, Heyworth testified he noticed scratches and bruising to the defendant’s face.
The officer eventually spoke more with Nelson outside the hospital.
“He said the victim had diabetes and was off her medication,” Heyworth stated. “I asked how he got the injuries on his face. He said they got into an argument where the victim punched him and struck him with a fishing pole.”
Heyworth told the court he asked Nelson what he did.
“He said, ‘I hit her back,’” the officer stated.
At that point, Heyworth testified, he told Nelson to stop talking until he was read his Miranda Rights.
Police arrested him later that day.
Police Detective Brandon Mansur was last to take the stand. He told the court he went to the scene of the alleged incident in Ocean View.
He said he traveled 0.9 miles from Maikai Road in the Hawaiian Ranchos subdivision. The four-wheel-drive road leads to Pohue Bay.
While on the road, Mansur testified, he found a bunch of stuff scattered on the side of road including broken fishing poles.
Mansur spoke with the defendant on Saturday. During the interview, the detective stated that Nelson said he and his girlfriend walked down to Pohue Bay for the day. However, it got dark and they decided to stay the night.
During the night, Mansur testified, Nelson told him the victim woke up complaining of having numb hands and started to walk back up the road.
Nelson went to stop her and they got into a physical dispute, Mansur relayed.
According to the interview he conducted, Masur testified the victim hit Nelson with a rock and his belt.
“He hit her back with an open-handed smack,” Mansur stated as he indicated a slap to his left shoulder to the court.
Nelson and the victim left the next morning — however, Mansur told the court, the defendant stated the victim continued to throw rocks at him, and at one point hit him with a fishing pole.
The victim allegedly had to stop and go to the bathroom. Mansur testified that Nelson later found her passed out, like she had been sleeping.
Nelson allegedly told Mansur he stayed with the victim for about 20 minutes before going up to his parents’ house in the subdivision to get help.
Mansur said the defendant told him the victim was diabetic or narcoleptic and she always had discoloration on her skin.
When the detective made a call to the victim’s parents in Alaska they refuted Nelson’s statements of the victim’s medical history.
In closing arguments, Macapinlac argued the state didn’t provide probable cause.
“There hasn’t been any showing of intent,” he said.
“The pictures are horrific when it comes to a simple fall,” Wolf stated referring to images of the victim’s injuries.
The prosecutor added there were no abrasions aside from the ones on her lower back.
“Most of what he said to the detective is entirely self-serving statements,” Wolf said of Nelson.
Masunaga ruled there was probable cause in the case on both counts. The case will be heard in 3rd Circuit Court on March 26.