Miske and 10 other defendants expected in federal court Thursday

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HONOLULU, Hawaii (KHON2) — Michael Miske and 10 other individuals are expected in federal court, Thursday.

This comes after federal investigators indicted Oahu businessman Michael Miske for murder, kidnapping, and more than a dozen other charges.


HONOLULU, Hawaii (KHON2) -The federal case against Michael Miske is bringing an unusual aspect to the legal process in Hawaii, capital punishment.

Hawaii abolished the death penalty, and joins Alaska as one of only two states to never implement the process.

It will be up to the United States Attorney General, currently William Barr, to pursue the death penalty against Miske.

The United States hadn’t executed a federal prisoner since 2003, but that changed Tuesday when the Justice Department executed Daniel Lewis Lee for murdering an Arkansas family back in the 1990s. The Supreme Court approved another late Wednesday night.

“I think Bill Barr is the person that can green light the death penalty in this case, I think Bill Barr will do it,” University of Hawaii Law Professor Kenneth Lawson said.

Usually federal prosecutors won’t pursue a death penalty case in a state where there is no capital punishment. The last time in Hawaii that it was sought after was during the 2014 murder trial of Naeem Williams, a soldier who was sentenced to life in prison for beating his 5-year-old daughter to death.

Lawson believes that the nature of Wednesday’s indictment against Miske’s enterprise is egregious enough for another exception.

“When you look at this indictment and you look at how thick it is, part of the reason you can go for the death penalty in a case like this is these guys are doing so much crime,” Lawson said. “They were so notorious. When you read the indictment and believe what’s in it is true, by the time the jury hears the death part they don’t like these people anyway,”

In addition to the arrests today, eight other people believed to be involved in the alleged criminal activity have been served target or subject letters. The Honolulu Police Department and Honolulu Prosecutors Office tell KHON2 that their staff were not recipients. The Department of Public Safety did not respond yet at the time of publication.

Although officials have not yet identified who they are, Lawson thinks we will see that unfold as investigators work on the cases against the alleged conspirators.

“When you have these individuals who are facing life sentences, the question becomes what information can you give us, the federal government, where we can go lighter on you?” Lawson said. “And don’t tell us about people lower than you, we want to know about people higher than you,”

If the Attorney General pursues the death penalty Miske would have a jury trial and a separate trial for capital punishment.

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