KAILUA-KONA — A 3rd Circuit Court judge has ordered the Hawaii Community Correctional Center warden to court to explain how a pre-trial murder suspect was erroneously released last week.
Peter Cabreros, warden for the correctional center, was ordered by Judge Melvin Fujino to “show cause” on Aug. 9. The order comes after Brian Lee Smith was mistakenly released from the facility on July 24. The Department of Public Safety and Hawaii County prosecutors were unaware of the release until Thursday.
Smith turned himself in Thursday evening. On Friday morning, Fujino increased the 49-year-old’s bail from $1.15 million to $2 million.
Smith is accused of murder after a shooting incident on Painted Church Road on June 23 that left Thomas Ballesteros Jr. dead and another male injured.
This is at least the second time this year Cabreros has been ordered before a 3rd Circuit Court judge in Kona to explain why a prisoner was released earlier than intended.
In March, Cabreros appeared before Judge Robert D.S. Kim with the Department of Public Safety’s attorney general Michelle Agsalda to address Kim’s concerns of the early releases of Adam Glassbrook, Tandi Ezzo and Ryan Wiles.
During the hearing, Kim questioned the warden about the early release of Glassbrook. In this case, bail was reduced to $2,500 and Glassbrook was ordered to appear in court on Feb. 22.
However, the defendant was released without posting bail.
Agsalda stated to Kim during the March hearing that HCCC takes full responsibility for the release. There were two additional offenses that weren’t inputted in the system, resulting in Glassbrook’s release.
When the error was discovered, Agsalda told the court the state sheriff’s deputies were contacted to take the defendant back into custody.
In November of 2016, Ezzo was sentenced to one year in jail and was to be released into inpatient drug treatment. That didn’t happen.
He was released early. Agsalda told the court he was released early because he had accrued 90 days credit for time served, which was the correct move, according to DPS.
However, according to the court, a judge had put Ezzo’s case back on deferral, specifically stating no credit for time served.
“Even when the deferral is revoked and placed back on probation, the credit for time served for all time would apply,” Agsalda stated to the court.
Wiles’ case was also discussed. Facing repeated drug-related offenses, the special conditions to his release were modified by a judge in April of 2017.
Wiles was to serve one year jail with credit for time served of 30 days and early release into residential treatment.
Wiles was released early and not accepted into treatment.
“We agree there may have been an misinterpretation of the order,” Agsalda said.
The interpretation from HCCC was also Nunc Pro Tunc, or referred back to the earlier order.
Kim replied back that the terms and conditions had been modified.
“We agree with the court that there should be some communication with the court and HCCC staff if there is confusion,” Agsalda said.
During the March hearing, Kim was satisfied with Agsalda’s responses but said he was concerned and hoped DPS and the judiciary could come together solve any miscommunication there may be.