DNA leads to arrest in violent carjacking


DNA evidence from a vaping device led to the arrest of a suspect in a violent Sept. 8 carjacking in the parking lot of the KTA Super Stores Puainako parking lot.

That suspect, 36-year-old Johnathan Barros of Pahoa, is charged with second-degree robbery and first-degree unauthorized control of a stolen vehicle.


Second-degree robbery is a Class B felony carrying a maximum 10-year prison sentence upon conviction, while first-degree unauthorized control is a Class C felony carrying a potential five-year prison term.

According to court documents filed by police, a Hilo man in his 60s told police that he shopped for a few grocery items at about 10:10 a.m. that night. When the man returned to his 2003 white Toyota Camry a few minutes later, he was putting his groceries in the car when a man approached and punched him in the mouth, knocking out a tooth, documents state.

The man reportedly told officers he tried to run, but was chased down by the assailant, and the victim either fell or was pushed to the ground, dropping his car keys.

Documents state the victim said his attacker took the car keys, got into the car, took a right on East Puainako Street and another right onto Kanoelehua Avenue and escaped toward Puna.

Video of the incident shows the suspect dropping a small object while chasing the victim, and police recovered a yellow Geek Bar vaping device, according to documents.

The device was negative for fingerprints, but police were notified on Dec. 9 the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, referred to as CODIS, matched DNA found on the pipe to Barros, a felon with convictions for kidnapping in 2010 and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug in 2020.

Barros was on four years of probation for the latter conviction when the incident occurred.

Police arrested Barros on a warrant on Dec. 29. According to documents, Barros admitted to punching the victim and stealing the car, allegedly saying, “He lucky that’s all I did.”

Barros reportedly told officers he drove to a friend’s house in Hawaiian Acres subdivision and that the car was later stolen from him.

At Barros’ initial court appearance on Friday, Hilo District Judge Jeffrey Hawk maintained Barros’ bail at $35,000 and scheduled a preliminary hearing to 2 p.m. today.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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