HONOLULU (KHON2) — The brutal beating of a landlord earlier this week has left the community shaken as more details are revealed in court documents.
The suspect, 23-year-old Kendall Gray, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of 64-year-old Alvin Matsumoto.
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According to the documents, Matsumoto was attempting to evict Gray from an apartment unit on Sheridan Street when the assault occurred.
Surveillance video allegedly shows Gray stomping on Matsumoto’s head and chest several times before dragging his body onto the sidewalk and fleeing the scene.
Gray and Matsumoto were court-ordered to attend mediation over $3,200 owed in past due rent, but Gray canceled.
In February, the court ordered possession of the unit to be returned to Matsumoto, effective this past Monday, March 20. Tragically, Gray allegedly killed Matsumoto the day before.
Gray remains in custody on $1 million bail.
Julie Mitchell, Executive Director of Kuikahi Mediation Center, explained the purpose of mediation in landlord-tenant disputes: “The mediators are neutral third parties that are helping the participants to come to their own conclusion. The mediation participants are the decision-makers.”
The state’s Legislature passed ACT 57 to address eviction issues during the pandemic which extended the eviction notice period to 15 days and required landlords to engage in mediation before filing an action for summary possession. This law ran from August 2021 to August 2022.
Each county has a mediation center, with both the Big Island and Kauai currently offering free mediation for evictions. A bill in the State Legislature could require landlords to participate in mediation before filing for summary possession once more.
“It would also create an emergency rent relief program to participants in pre-mediation to provide resources that would help avoid eviction and maintain stable tenancies,” Mitchell said.
Mediators are trained professionals who aim to facilitate communication and understanding between parties.
Mitchell emphasized the importance of open communication, saying, “the only way to know [what someone is thinking or feeling] is to sit down and talk to someone.”
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The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii previously told KHON2 News that tenants who do not comply with a court order may be forcibly removed from a property.
They also noted that temporary restraining orders could be an option if a party feels unsafe.