Mental exam ordered for alleged killer
The mother of the 21-year-old Hilo man who allegedly stabbed his grandparents to death early Monday morning in the family’s Panaewa home called police to report a suicide in progress, saying her son was experiencing an episode of schizophrenia and had a knife.
Cheryl Ho — mother of the suspect, Joshua Ho, and daughter of the deceased victims, Jeffrey and Carla Takamine — made the call at about 6:53 a.m., according to court documents filed by police.
While responding, officers were apprised that Joshua Ho had possibly stabbed both of his 68-year-old grandparents.
Officers arriving at the scene found Joshua Ho’s father, Guy Ho, and his 28-year-old brother, Kaulana Ho, holding down the suspect, who was naked and covered in blood, according to police.
The bodies of Jeffrey and Carla Takamine, the owners of Big Island Delights, were discovered inside a bedroom by officers, documents state.
A blood-stained knife with an 8-inch blade reportedly was found just outside the door to the room.
Police took Joshua Ho into custody without incident.
Kaulana Ho told officers that he saw his younger brother with the knife after allegedly stabbing his grandparents. Kaulana Ho then struggled with his brother to wrest the knife from him. During the struggle, Kaulana Ho reportedly suffered lacerations to his head and ribs.
He was taken by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center, where he was treated for what police described as “life-threatening” injuries and released.
Joshua Ho also was taken to the hospital’s emergency room, where he was treated for lacerations to his hands and then released back into the custody of police.
Documents state a 17-year-old girl, identified only by her initials, also was in the home and was a witness.
Joshua Ho was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and a single count of attempted second-degree murder.
Documents state that upon being advised of his rights, Joshua Ho requested a lawyer and police did not obtain a statement from him.
At Ho’s initial court appearance Wednesday, Hilo District Judge Kanani Laubach granted a motion by Deputy Public Defender Evans Smith to have a panel of three mental health professionals examine his client. There was no objection by Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Malate.
Smith also requested Laubach reduce the $2.75 million bail by half for Ho, who has no prior criminal convictions.
“It isn’t about how people feel about the bail or a bail reduction. It’s about looking at the circumstances,” said Smith, adding his client has “zero ability” to post the bail, and that it’s “easy to rush to judgment.”
Malate objected “to any kind of bail reduction,” saying the state “feels the bail has been set at the proper amount.”
“There are multiple charges with this case, with this defendant, and multiple victims,” Malate said, and added that a bail study, which is confidential, brought up “a number of concerns.”
“If the defendant was to be released, he has basically nowhere to go. He was staying with family, and the family would not be able to take him in.”
Malate also pointed to “some mental health concerns, as evidenced by the motion” for the mental examination.
Laubach denied the motion for bail reduction without prejudice, which means the defense can revisit the request at a later time.
“I, too, want to see what the doctors have to say,” Laubach said. “And then, depending on that, you can renew the bail request.”
The judge added that Ho might ultimately end up being treated at a hospital facility instead of being incarcerated, “but we won’t know unless and until we see” the doctors’ reports.
Laubach set Ho’s next court date at 1:30 p.m. March 28.
The first-degree murder charge, relatively rare in Hawaii, is because there was more than one death.
First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment upon conviction. A conviction for second-degree murder and/or attempted second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.