Man pleads not guilty to kidnap, sex assault of teen

Duncan K. Mahi, right, appears with this court-appointed attorney James Bivens Monday in Kona Circuit Court. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

A 52-year-old Hilo man pleaded not guilty to a host of charges Monday filed in connection with the alleged Sept. 16 abduction and ensuing crimes committed against a 15-year-old Kona girl.

Duncan Kealoha Mahi appeared before Kona Circuit Court Judge Wendy DeWeese in a courtroom packed with over three dozen supporters of the victim, her boyfriend, also age 15, and both of their families.


After waiving public reading of the 11 charges handed down Sept. 21 by a Hilo grand jury in court, Mahi through his court-appointed attorney James Bivens pleaded not guilty to two counts each kidnapping, first-degree terroristic threatening, first-degree robbery, first-degree sex assault and third-degree sex assault and one count of meth trafficking for giving the substance to a minor.

The charges stem from a series of alleged crimes that began around 1:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at Anaehoomalu Bay in South Kohala.

According to police and family of the victim, the victim was with her boyfriend at Anaehoomalu Bay when a “local” man in his 40s to 60s approached the young couple, forced the girl to tie up her boyfriend and then took her at knifepoint.

The abduction triggered Hawaii Island’s first-ever Maile (AMBER) Alert as county, state, federal and private assets searched for the teen. The victim was able to escape her captor around 11:30 a.m. Sept. 17 in Hilo with the assistance of Good Samaritans. Mahi was apprehended several hours later.

According to court documents, Mahi allegedly sexually assaulted the victim and forced her to smoke methamphetamine. Mahi also allegedly tethered the victim by her ankle inside a bus on his Hilo property until she persuaded him to get her food in Hilo.

Though the victim’s name was widely disseminated via the AMBER Alert, West Hawaii Today is not including her name in stories to protect the her identity because she is a minor and a victim of sexual assault.

After Mahi entered his pleas to the seven Class A and four Class C felonies on Monday, DeWeese set jury trial for Feb. 7, 2023.

The judge then addressed Mahi’s bail, which was set at $2 million following the Sept. 21 indictment.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Anelise Wolf asked the court maintain bail at $2 million.

“This court is well aware of the nature and seriousness of the charges. The defendant is a danger to the community,” Wolf told the court, noting Mahi was on probation at the time of the alleged offenses and has prior convictions for terroristic threatening, burglary, and abuse of a family or household member and a number of criminal contempts of court.

“Two million dollars is appropriate, and any further argument on bail can be brought by motion,” Wolf added.

Bivens did not address a specific bail amount, but instead asked the court to order a bail study, which had not been conducted for Mahi since the initial filing of the case Sept. 19 in Kona District Court. Bivens said he would file a motion for reduction of bail depending on the study’s finding.

After hearing arguments from the state and defense, DeWeese maintained bail for Mahi at $2 million and ordered the bail study be completed within 10 days. The judge also issued a number of conditions should Mahi post bail, including that he not contact, threaten, harm or harass or come within 100 yards of either victim.

As of press-time Monday, Mahi remained in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

If convicted, a Class A felony carries up to 20 years behind bars while a Class C felony is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. A conviction for methamphetamine trafficking carries a minimum two-year sentence.

Prosecutors previously said the state plans to pursue extended terms of imprisonment due to Mahi’s previous felony convictions. If convicted, the indictment states, Mahi may be sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of imprisonment without the possibility of parole as a repeat offender.

Families and friends of the victims declined comment following Monday’s arraignment and plea hearing via an attorney.

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