KEALOHA TRIAL: FBI video specialist testifies on what was recovered from video of mailbox theft

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HONOLULU (KHON2) –

Day 7, 5/31/2019

3:03 p.m. Silvert testified that during the trial for the mailbox theft in 2014, he was surprised when Louis Kealoha was called to testify. Silvert was expecting Katherine Kealoha to testify and identify Puana in the surveillance video.

But instead Louis testified and caused the mistrial. Silvert says he was planning to cross-examine the Kealohas if that trial had continued. Prosecutors have said that Louis Kealoha caused the mistrial purposely because the cross-examination would have been damaging to the Kealohas.

1:04 p.m. Alexander Silvert, the attorney who represented Puana for the mailbox theft also testified. He said there were many things that made him suspicious. The video surveillance was already turned in to HPD hours before the Kealohas reported the mailbox stolen. He said he was also suspicious of how easily the mailbox was taken off its post. And when he made several attempts to get more footage from the security cameras, it was never provided.

Also testifying was the director of the state Department of Human Resources Development who said there are no records of Alison Lee Wong working for the state. Prosecutors say that was an alias Katherine Kealoha used to forge documents.

10:54 a.m. FBI Special Agent Edwin Nam is an expert on cellular analysis. He testified that according to Gerard Puana’s cellphone records, Puana received a call around 2 p.m. on June 21, 2013 and another one around 8 a.m. on June 22, 2013. He says based on those calls the phone was in the Wilhelmina Rise area where he lived, but not in the area where the Kealohas lived. Keep in mind, the alleged mailbox theft happened around 11:30 p.m. on June 21.

Nam also testified that he analyzed Puana’s phone records in the Fri-Sat period in the three weeks before and the week after. He said there was the same pattern. The calls show Puana was in the area where he lived, not near the Kealohas.

Under cross-examination defense attorneys pointed out that there were several hours between those calls which does not indicate where the phone was. Also, the phone records show who the phone was registered to but not who’s actually on the phone at the time.

Day 6, 5/30/2019

3:17 p.m. Alvin Lum, who supervised the technical unit at CIU, was shown photos similar to the pictures the FBI video specialist recovered. Except these pictures had CIU workers in the background. Prosecutors seem to be making the connection that the hard drives were altered at the CIU office.

2:06 p.m. Gordon Gomes, a retired HPD major who was also head of the Criminal Intelligence Unit in 2015, testified that he was concerned when Derek Hahn partnered with Katherine Kealoha in a solar business. Gomes said he saw it as a conflict of interest.

He also said that Hahn appeared to have issues with his health. “He looked stressed, he might have been overwhelmed with the work that was there,” Gomes said.

1:12 p.m. Thomas Woodard, an FBI video specialist from the headquarters in Quantico, Virginia testified that he analyzed the hard drives that contained the surveillance video of the alleged mailbox theft.

He said he was not able to recover any video before the footage that showed the Kealoha mailbox being taken. Woodard said he was able to recover some images. One was a picture of a ceiling. There was also a picture of an office with what looks like a bunch of wires. The time stamps on the images show that some of the hard drives were altered or some portions were recorded over.

Woodard said when a hard drive is erased he can still recover some data. But if it’s recorded over, he cannot recover the data. 

The legal advisor for HPD also testified. She said she received a subpoena sent to the chief and his wife Katherine asking for video surveillance of the mailbox theft. This was in 2014 one year after the incident.She said she asked the chief and he told her everything was already submitted. 
Apparently the defense wanted the hard drives through the subpoena and not just the video.

10:23 a.m. William Awong was a deputy prosecutor in 2013. Katherine Kealoha was his supervisor at the time. He testified that she told him to file a motion to correct an illegal sentence for Puana’s unauthorized entry case. She basically wanted the judge to convict Puana for it which is a felony. It was denied.

Awong said that if he had known about the mailbox theft case which happened a few months before the filing, he would have reported it to another supervisor because it was a potential conflict.

10:03 a.m. Carolyn DeMello was back on the witness stand for cross-examination. She broke down in tears when asked about the meeting she had with Gerard Puana, Katherine Kealoha, and Florence Puana in September 2011. She cried because bad things were happening at that time and she was angry after finding out about the reverse mortgage.

Katherine ‘s attorney tried to make the point that Gerard benefited from the reverse mortgage because they were able to buy Gerard Puana’s condo at Salt Lake.

Day 5, 5/29/2019

2:52 p.m. Katherine Koga is on the witness stand. She was the deputy prosecutor assigned to the Gerard Puana case for Unauthorized Entry into a dwelling. She testified that it would be unethical for Katherine Kealoha to visit him in his holding cell without his attorney present. And also for her to make arrangements to bring him to the circuit court holding cell even though Puana didn’t have a court date. Koga said those violations could get an attorney to lose their license to practice.

During cross examination defense attorneys pointed out that it’s okay for relatives to visit someone in a holding cell.

2:06 p.m. Deputy Sheriff Thomas Cayetano testified that after Gerard Puana was arrested in 2011, Katherine Kealoha asked Cayetano to make special arrangements so she and Puana could meet in private at the circuit court holding cell.

He also made arrangements to have Puana admitted to the Sand Island Treatment Center, as requested by Kealoha. Cayetano said there’s usually a long waiting list but he arranged for Puana to do a phone interview with the treatment center from the holding cell and he was admitted.

Prosecutors point out that no judge ordered Puana to get treatment. Cayetano arranged it only because Kealoha asked him to do it.

During cross-examination, defense attorneys pointed out that other relatives were able to meet with Puana at the holding cell. Also, he was not in charge of admissions at the treatment center so it was not his decision to admit him. The treatment center would not admit a patient unless he or she admitted to having a drug problem.

11:46 a.m. Also testifying was Jaunette de Mello, niece of Gerard Puana. She said Katherine Kealoha called her in June 2011 because Puana was about to be arrested so she should leave the house.

De Mello said she came back to the house a couple of hours later and saw Kealoha with several officers searching the house including Puana’s computer. She said Bobby Nguyen was one of the officers.

She testified that Kealoha told her that drugs were found in the house. 

“She told me that they just found over a hundred pure ecstasy tablets,” de Mello said.

She asked if she could see them but Kealoha told her they were on the way to the lab. She then asked “How do you know it’s pure?” And de Mello said then Kealoha changed the subject.

De Mello also said that Kealoha was trying to find Puana’s car because she lent Puana $20,000 to buy that car. And added that her husband Louis didn’t know about it.

“She said if he was to find out he would divorce her.”

De Mello also said that she heard a police officer tell Katherine that a gun was found inside Puana’s other car which was parked outside the house. De Mello said she was in disbelief but Katherine told her not to talk to the officer.

During cross examination defense attorneys pointed out that she never reported any of this until FBI interviewed her in 2015, four years later and that her story changed a little since then.

11:45 a.m. Testimony today centers on past incidents at the Kealoha home even before the alleged mailbox theft in June 2013.

HPD Assistant Chief Sean Saito says in 2011 the chief called him to the house to report broken glass on a door. Saito was the commander of the Central Intelligence Unit at the time. HPD security cameras were installed and officers also conducted 24 hour surveillance on Gerard Puana. 

Prosecutors kept emphasizing the point that no reports were filed. Saito said the chief told him not to file any. Saito also said that there were other incidents when things were thrown at the chief’s house.

During cross examination defense attorneys pointed out that CIU investigations needed to be kept confidential.

Day 4, 5/28/2019

2:47 p.m. Niall Silva is on the witness stand. He had pled guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and making a false statement. He said he conspired with Derek Hahn and Bobby Nguyen.

Silva said he filed a report saying he picked up the hard drive of the surveillance video from the Kealoha house when it was actually Nguyen who brought it to the police station.

“It wouldn’t look good if Bobby had turned in the evidence because Bobby used to live with the chief,” Silva said.

He also testified that in the report he indicated that he checked to make sure that everything was working properly but he never checked. He said Hahn told him to lie about it. He never turned in the whole hard drive. He just made copies of certain clips.

He said Hahn told him it wasn’t needed.

“He said we didn’t need it so I put it back into rotation,” Silva testified.

Silva said his heart sank when he testified in the Puana trial and kept lying about it even though he thought the man in the surveillance video did not look like Puana.

11:28 a.m. A product design engineer for a mailbox company was called to testify. Prosecutors put on display a mailbox which they say is the same type stolen from the Kealohas. 

After seeing the surveillance footage of the man taking the mailbox off its post, engineer Jonathan Dry testified that he was surprised that the mailbox came off the top post. He adds that the post should have broken off the base. He said the mailbox was “not properly assembled.”

Prosecutors are making the point that the mailbox was rigged to come off easily in the effort by the Kealohas to frame Gerard Puana for the theft.

9:47 a.m The first witness is a woman who was Gerard Puana’s former neighbor who owns a white Acura. Prosecutors made the point that her car is not the same as the one in the surveillance video. Detectives had questioned her after the mailbox theft to see if Puana might have used her car for the theft. She said she never knew him and her car is different from the one in the video.

Also on the stand was an automotive expert who testified that the car in the video is a Lexus.

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