Indictment filed against South Kona man accused of murder

  • Brian Lee Smith

KAILUA-KONA — A grand jury indictment has been handed down in the case against a Honaunau man accused of murder after a shooting last month on Painted Church Road.

The indictment was filed in 3rd Circuit Court Monday afternoon. Brian Lee Smith, 49, faces second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted murder, two counts of ownership or possession (firearm) prohibited and two counts of carrying or use of firearm in the commission of a separate felony.


The charges stem from a shooting that occurred June 23 on Painted Church Road in Honaunau. Upon arrival, Hawaii Police Department officers confirmed one person dead at the scene. He was later identified as 42-year-old Thomas Ballesteros Jr., of no permanent address.

It was also determined that two other men were injured in the shooting, including the suspect, later identified as Smith. Both men had left the scene before officers arrived, and were later located and taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening gunshot injuries. They were later flown to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu for further treatment.

The second victim has since been released and has returned to the Big Island, according to police.

Smith, who is currently being held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center, was flown to Hawaii Island on Friday under the custody of state Sheriff’s deputies to appear for a scheduled preliminary hearing in the case. Hawaii Police Department Officer Joel Furuto was the only person to testify during the hearing.

As the courthouse was soon to close, District Court Judge Margaret Masunaga granted Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kate Deleon’s motion to continue the hearing, which was scheduled for July 23.


Deleon would not comment as to why she filed an indictment instead of waiting to continue court proceedings in a couple of weeks.

Now that the indictment has been issued, Deleon said, the next step is for the court to serve a warrant, which has not been done yet. After the warrant is served, Smith will be required to appear in 3rd Circuit Court for arraignment and plea.