KAILUA-KONA — Jury trial for three people accused of aiding alleged cop killer Justin Waiki entered its third week on Tuesday.
More than two dozen witnesses, including sworn officers and civilian staff of the Hawaii Police Department, an FBI agent and members of the public, have been called by prosecutors to provide testimony over a span of 10 days since the proceedings got underway on Sept. 26.
Krystle Ferreira, Malia Lajala and Jorge Pagan-Torres are each charged with two counts of first-degree hindering prosecution and first-degree attempted murder.
The three, along with a fourth person, Jamie Jason, were in a vehicle with Waiki when police tracked the man down three days after he shot and killed Officer Bronson Kaliloa on the side of Highway 11 in Puna. Waiki was killed in an exchange of bullets on South Point Road during which another officer suffered nonfatal gunshot wounds.
Prosecutors say they were among a network of loyal friends of Waiki who intentionally helped the man on the lam. Attorneys for the two women and man on trial for their alleged roles assisting the 33-year-old fugitive say otherwise.
Attorneys for Ferreira and Pagan-Torres argue their clients were not previously connected to Waiki and were scared for their lives while counsel for Lajala stated she was working to get the wanted man to turn himself in to police.
Prosecutors are expected to rest their case later this week at which time defense counsel for each of the three defendants will present their cases. Trial was anticipated to take five weeks.
On Tuesday, several employees of the Mizuno Superette grocery store in Pahala took the stand, recounting their interactions with Ferreira and Lajala on July 20, 2018, when the two came in to purchase candy, beer and other necessities.
Ka’u Patrol Officer Melissa D’Angelo also took the stand, testifying about her response to South Point Road and investigations thereafter, followed by Detective Carrie Akina, who responded to the scene in Ka’u to recover evidence, among other tasks.
The day ended with Hilo Medical Center Dr. Victor Bochkarev providing statements on his assessment of three injuries suffered by Sgt. Bryan Tina, the officer shot when Waiki was encountered on South Point Road with the four others. The injuries included a through-and-through gunshot to his upper right chest and superficial injuries to his right hand and right arm.
Also Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim dismissed a second juror when court resumed following recess for lunch. He did not provide details, but reminded remaining jurors to adhere to the court’s instruction. The jury now comprises 12 members and one alternate.
The fourth woman in the 4-Runner, Jason, is being tried separately as her case is tied-up in appeal over statements made while she was hospitalized. She faces two counts of first-degree hindering prosecution, first-degree attempted murder and place to keep pistol or revolver, and two firearms offenses, ownership or possession prohibited fugitive.
Three others were also charged in connection with the case; Kiel Brende and Mokihana Veincent have since pleaded out and been sentenced while the third, Taumi Carr, awaits trial.