HONOLULU (KHON2) — Katherine Kealoha will not testify at her brother’s drug trial. Prosecutors told a federal judge on Tuesday that they have called their last witness in the case against Rudolph Puana.
Prosecutors have called on Puana’s close friends who testified that he gave them prescriptions for opioids like oxycodone, which they then exchanged for cash and cocaine.
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Legal experts said Katherine Kealoha would have provided key information not only because she’s Puana’s sister. But also because she took over the investigation during a drug bust and according to court documents allegedly tried to shield her brother from getting caught.
“Katherine Kealoha is not just a key witness, she was the star witness,” said Megan Kau,a defense attorney who is not involved in the case.
Kau said it’s shocking that Kealoha will not be testifying, considering all the trouble the government went through to get Kealoha here. Kau added that Kealoha could have changed her mind, even though she made a plea agreement with the government to testify.
“My educated guess is that her plea agreement required her to testify so that she could later get a reduction in sentence and she is now saying, ‘I don’t want that reduction in sentence, I will take my time,'” said Kau.
There were some questions about Kealoha’s credibility since she is a convicted felon. But Kau pointed out that prosecutors would have already considered that before bringing Kealoha to Hawaii.
“I don’t believe that credibility was a factor in the government deciding not to call Katherine Kealoha as a witness because they were already well aware of that potential issue before they decided to move her from the mainland to Honolulu,” said Kau.
Kau added that changes in federal law that took effect this year allow federal inmates to reduce more time in their sentence.
“So Katherine Kealoha could have re-calculated her time, her exit date, realized that she doesn’t need to testify against her brother and decided not to testify,” said Kau.
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We reached out to the US Attorney’s office for an explanation and there’s been no response.