Judge sets new trial date in drug case

  • After nearly 20 months, a trial date is set for Jose Miranda, facing 9 drug charges. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KEALAKEKUA — A judge is allowing a 2017 drug case to move forward after prosecutors withdrew their motion to dismiss the case.

Jose Miranda was charged in December 2017 with 11 counts of first-degree promoting a dangerous drug, class A felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Two counts were dropped, and after four continuances, trial was set to begin on June 18.

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However, prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss all charges on May 16 due to the unavailability of a witness, a now-retired police officer who was on leave without pay and unable to testify due to identity protection provided by the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO).

After a series of motions and closed hearings, Kona Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim allowed declarations from Hawaii County Police Chief Paul Ferreira, Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth and Deputy Corporation Counsel Lerisa Heroldt regarding the nature of the officer’s unavailability to become public, therefore negating the prosecution’s need to dismiss the case.

On July 31, prosecutors withdrew their motion to dismiss, which Kim granted Friday.

“We’re ready to go to trial,” said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sheri Lawson.

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Kim will hear arguments on a defense motion to suppress all evidence related to Miranda on Sept. 5.

A jury trial has been set for Oct. 22.

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