HONOLULU (KHON2) — Trial for the man accused of committing a heinous act of sexual violence is set to begin next week at Honolulu Circuit Court.
Among the witnesses expected to testify for the defense are deputies from the Prosecutor’s Office. That’s just one of the unusual factors in this case.
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Michael Hirokawa is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and sex assault.
Court records said in November 2020, he met a woman at a bar and took her to his condo at Capitol Place where he allegedly choked and raped her.
Records said she was able to escape when he fell asleep and was found naked and bleeding in the elevator.
Records filed by his attorney said that he was drugged. The prosecutor’s office said it has a conflict of interest and asked the State Attorney General to prosecute the case.
“Several deputy prosecuting attorneys in the office not only know Michael Hirokawa but are close to and have some type of close relationship to him,” said attorney Megan Kau, who represents the victim.
She said it’s unusual to have the whole prosecutor’s office drop out of the case.
“Typically, maybe one person knows a defendant; and so, another division can take the case. But here, we have deputy prosecuting attorneys in screening, trials divisions, different divisions, that all knew the defendant,” said Kau.
She adds that two people who were deputy prosecutors at the time when Hirokawa was arrested are on the witness list. One was subpoenaed by the defense, and she believes will be called in as a character witness for the defense.
“In my practice, I have never seen a deputy prosecuting attorney be called as a character witness for a defendant. It is strange to see a deputy prosecuting attorney listed as a witness in his or her individual capacity, which is what we have here,” said Kau.
We reached out to the prosecutor’s office and a spokesman sent a statement that said, “We are not going to discuss why the case was conflicted to the Attorney General’s office or speculate on reasons why individuals appear on the State’s witness list.”
Due to the high publicity of the case, nearly 300 people were called to serve as possible jurors in the case. Jury selection started on Tuesday, April 25.
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Jury selection is expected to wrap up on Friday, April 28. Opening statements are scheduled next Tuesday.