A 33-year old Hilo man accused of possessing a loaded handgun and more than 3 grams of methamphetamine when police pulled his car over in the parking lot of a county park is free on reduced bail.
Deputy Public Defender Zachary Wingert on Tuesday requested that Hilo District Judge Kanani Laubach reduce bail for Glen Phillips-Panui from $14,000 to $5,000, according to court minutes. Deputy Prosecutor Evans Smith had no objection, and Laubach granted Wingert’s motion.
Phillips-Panui is facing charges of illegally carrying a handgun and carrying a loaded firearm on a public roadway — both Class B felonies punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment upon conviction — plus third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, a Class C felony with a possible five-year prison term, and two counts of illegally carrying ammunition, a misdemeanor.
Phillips-Panui was released from custody after Hawaii Bail Bonds posted a $5,000 surety bond. He was ordered to return to court at 8:30 a.m. May 26 for a preliminary hearing.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not mentioned in the court minutes, but the courts are working under a state Supreme Court order intended to reduce jail populations that states in part, “Release shall be presumed, unless the court finds that the release of the inmate would pose a significant risk to the safety of the inmate or the public.”
According to court documents filed by police, at about 3:35 p.m. on May 6, patrol officers spotted a black Toyota Corolla sedan with dark tinted windows in the parking lot of Malama Park, a county facility in the Panaewa area of Hilo.
When police entered the park’s parking lot, Phillips-Panui started to leave, but was stopped by officers.
Documents state that one of the patrolmen, Officer Christopher Jelsma, spotted a handgun in the driver’s side of the car, drew his own service sidearm and ordered Phillips-Panui out of the vehicle.
The handgun, according to documents, was a silver-and-black 1911-style 9 mm semi-automatic handgun with the hammer cocked, a round of ammunition chambered and a 10-round magazine fully loaded.
Documents state the firearm bore no serial number.
A search of the car allegedly turned up a green camouflage backpack with three boxes of 9 mm ammo, a baggie with 3.39 grams of powder that tested positive for crystal methamphetamine, and a glass smoking pipe with residue that also tested positive for meth, documents state.
According to documents, Phillips-Panui, who has no prior felony convictions, told police he had gone to McDonald’s and took his food to the park to eat, then attempted to leave when he saw officers approaching.
He also allegedly told officers he’s been smoking ice for three years and carries the firearm with him whenever he’s in the car.
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