KEALOHA TRIAL: Prosecutors presenting rebuttal case this morning

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Week 4

Day 16, 6/20/2019

10:23 a.m. Prosecutors rest their rebuttal case. Jurors have been told to come back Tuesday for closing arguments. Attorneys will meet with the judge tomorrow and Monday to finalize jury instructions.

9:33 a.m. Prosecutors wanted to bring attorney Kevin Sumida back to the witness stand for more cross-examination. He represented Katherine Kealoha during the civil trial and testified for the defense on Tuesday. Prosecutors apparently want to undermine his credibility.

The judge didn’t allow it but allowed prosecutors to show courtroom video during recess from Tuesday. It shows Sumida flipping through the pages of the binder in front of him. Prosecutors asked him after the break if he was looking through the records during recess and Sumida said no. But the video did show him “thumbing through the folders,” as testified by US Marshal Charles Goodwin.

During cross-examination defense asked if Sumida was going through the pages quickly. Goodwin said yes but Sumida did stop to look at some point.

Day 15, 6/19/2019

1:59 p.m. Lars Isaacson, only brought in one witness, Gordon Gomes, who was with the Criminal Intelligence Unit in 2010-2012. He testified that those who are ranked captain and above do not have to sign in for attendance. Not sure what his point was.

Also, Isaacson made the point that Shiraishi was not on the witness list for Gerard Puana’s criminal trial for mailbox theft. So Isaacson was trying to tell the jury that Shiraishi was hardly involved in the case and was not part of the conspiracy.

The defense rests. Trial resumes tomorrow for prosecutors’ rebuttal case.

1:12 p.m. Lars Isaacson, attorney for Gordon Shiraishi, is up next. When he’s done the defense will rest, which should be by the end of the day.

Prosecutors plan to bring two to three more witnesses tomorrow for rebuttal. Then the trial will take a break as attorneys and the judge finalize jury instructions.


1:08 p.m. Judge J. Michael Seabright also ruled that the defense cannot bring in any more testimony on the civil lawsuit between the Puanas and Katherine Kealoha.

The jury already heard that Kealoha won the lawsuit and that the Puanas were ordered to pay her more than $600,000. The case is on appeal. But the defense wanted to bring in more details about the lawsuit.

11:21 a.m. Neil Broom, a computer forensics expert testified that he analyzed emails and photos emailed by Derek Hahn. He said the photos were taken on June 22, 2013 around 8:00 a.m. from Kahala. This was the day the Kealohas reported their mailbox missing.

Prosecutors had said before that Hahn was in the area because he was part of the conspiracy to frame Gerard Puana. But today’s testimony seems to say that he was in the area taking pictures of a house for his side business for a solar company.

Prosecutors pointed out during cross-examination that the IPhone that took those pictures could have been manipulated through the settings and change the time and date of when those pictures had been taken.

Also, what came out during cross-examination was that Hahn made more than $200,000 in 2013 working for the solar company. And that he talked the owner of the solar company into installing solar equipment at the Kealoha house at cost for $25,000. It normally would have cost $45,000, but Hahn told the owner of the company that since it was the chief’s house, it could lead to bigger projects.

9:28 a.m. Katherine Kealoha will not testify. Her attorneys rest their case. 

Up next is Birney Bervar, attorney for Derek Hahn.

Day 14, 6/18/2019

3:08 p.m. Sumida also testified about Gerard Puana’s living trust naming Katherine as the trustee. Prosecutors have said that it was forged by her. But Sumida testified he reported that the trust might have not been real and reported it to the attorney general’s office. He said Katherine did not try to stop him from reporting it.

Fiery exchange during the cross examination of Sumida by prosecutors.

Michael Wheat kept peppering him with questions as to why Sumida waited months to turn the trust document to the AG’s office. 

Wheat also kept asking Sumida if he reviewed how the rest of the reverse mortgage money was spent. Sumida said Gerard spent most of it. Wheat asked Sumida if he brought receipts to show proof of that but he said he didn’t bring any.

2:17 p.m. Sumida was not allowed to answer questions on his confidence about winning the case. But he did testify that the conservatorship for Florence Puana that Katherine filed was actually not Katherine ‘s idea but it was from someone in Sumida’s law office. 

Prosecutors have said that Katherine filed it to take control of Florence ‘s finances. Sumida testified that they wanted to appoint a non-family member. And that the whole idea was to protect Florence from being manipulated financially by her son Gerard.

The conservatorship was not granted.

1:53 p.m. Before jury came back in, the co-counsel for Katherine Kealoha, Earle Partington, asked the judge to allow testimony from Kevin Sumida, Katherine’s attorney for the civil trial against the Puanas.
Partington told the judge that Sumida will testify that he was confident that Katherine would win the lawsuit, which she did. 

This goes against what prosecutors are saying, that Katherine was afraid of what might happen with the lawsuit. And that’s why the Kealohas framed Gerard for the mailbox theft. The judge will allow Sumida to testify.

11:48 a.m. Katherine Kealoha might testify in her defense. Her attorney Cynthia Kagiwada told the judge that Kealoha has not made up her mind.

11:36 a.m. A woman who worked at Bank of Hawaii’s Kahala branch testified that in January 2013, Gerard Puana came in to ask for bank statements from the joint account of Florence Puana and Katherine Kealoha.

Destenie Turner testified that she could not give Gerard the statements because his name is not on the account. Gerard then made a call on his cellphone and then told Turner, “This is Kat, my sister.”
Turner said the woman on the phone told her, “It’s okay to release the statements to my brother.”

Gerard is actually Katherine’s uncle.

Turner called the number on the account and left a message. She said Katherine showed up at the bank later and said she did not request the statements.

The incident was reported to police.

During cross-examination prosecutors pointed out that Gerard has a sister named Kaye.

10:12 a.m. Dru Akagi the HPD homicide detective who investigated the mailbox theft was back on the witness stand. He testified that when he interviewed Gerard Puana after his arrest, he said he didn’t take the mailbox. This was before Akagi told him what he was arrested for. So how did he know?

Under cross-examination prosecutors pointed out this was more than a week after the arrest so Puana could have found out from other officers, especially from the officers who arrested him.

9:50 a.m. Testimony from Shari Motooka-Higa from Central Pacific Bank. She said she went over the reverse mortgage documents with Florence Puana in 2009. They showed records of good faith estimates and counseling that were signed by Ms. Puana.

Motooka-Higa also testified that she met with Ms. Puana at least twice to explain the fees and other terms. She also said that even if payments were not paid on the reverse mortgage, Ms. Puana would not have been forced out of her home.

Ms. Puana testified earlier that she did not know anything about the reverse mortgage. She trusted Katherine Kealoha to arrange everything.

During cross-examination prosecutors pointed out that Motooka-Higa made a commission from the reverse mortgage. And that she did not know what type of counseling Ms. Puana received.

Day 13, 6/17/2019

4:00 p.m. Hironaka rests his case for Nguyen. Cynthia Kagiwada, representing Katherine Kealoha is up next. Her first witness is Gerard Puana.

2:58 p.m. Daniel Sellers is on the witness stand for the defense. He was with the HPD Criminal Intelligence Unit during the mailbox theft. He was originally scheduled to testify for prosecutors but they never called him. 

He was indicted for lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice. He made a plea deal and plead guilty to Disclosure of Confidential Information. He said he told Katherine Kealoha that Gerard Puana did not own a white car.

Sellers was sentenced to one year probation.

2:25 p.m. Defense attorney for Louis Kealoha rests. Rustam Barbee only called one witness.

Next up is Randy Hironaka, representing Bobby Nguyen.

2:21 p.m. First witness for the defense is the director of operations at the Sand Island Drug Treatment Center. She said Gerard Puana was kicked out of the program in 2011 after one week because he threatened to kill his roommate after stepping on his bunk bed.

Puana had testified before that he left the program on his own after he found out it would take two years to complete. He said that Katherine Kealoha told him it was a 4-6 week program.

12:06 p.m. Prosecutors now rest their case! Defense attorneys are asking the judge to acquit the defendants saying prosecutors have not shown enough proof that there was a conspiracy. The judge denied that request.

Earlier defense attorneys cross-examined FBI forensic accountant, Laurice Otsuka. They pointed out that she didn’t examine records from as far back as 2005. 

Cynthia Kagiwada showed a document of Katherine Kealoha paying more than $83,000 to the Puanas in 2005.

11:01 a.m. Laurice Otsuka is an FBI forensic accountant. She analyzed the transactions from the joint account of Katherine Kealoha and Florence Puana. It started out with more than $530,000 from Puana’s reverse mortgage in October 2008.

Of that, $360,000 was used to pay for Gerard Puana’s condo in Salt Lake. So there was about $150,000 in the joint account minus fees paid for the transaction. Otsuka pointed out that most of it was spent in six months. Nearly $24,000 was spent at the Sheraton Waikiki for a breakfast celebration when Louis Kealoha became police chief. Some $10,000 was spent for down payments for a Maserati and a Mercedes Benz. About $2,000 for Elton John concert tickets. 

Otsuka also testified that some of the money went to the joint account of Katherine and Louis Kealoha to pay for their mortgage. Otsuka said that account did not have enough money to pay the $6,600 monthly mortgage for their home in Kahala.

Otsuka also testified that Gerard Puana deposited more than $23,000 in the account which was also spent by the Kealohas.

9:35 a.m. The judge ruled that he will allow most of the charts that prosecutors want to show the jury, which shows bank statements and list of expenses by the Kealohas. A legal expert told us earlier that those charts are critical for prosecutors to get a guilty verdict because they help jurors connect the dots and make sense of all the evidence that’s been presented.

9:08 a.m. The Kealoha trial resumes. Katherine Kealoha’s attorney, Cynthia Kagiwada, has asked the judge to have long time attorney Earle Partington as her co-counsel. After a sidebar the judge approved it. It’s not clear why she wanted Partington to join her.

Also, the judge will not allow the trust agreement that prosecutors wanted to submit. The judge said it was just too late. Prosecutors wanted it submitted to show more proof that the living trust for Gerard Puana which names Katherine as the trustee, was forged.

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