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Man released after deadly shooting in Ewa Beach, but will self-defense claim hold?

HONOLULU (KHON2) - An Ewa Beach man accused of shooting and killing another man who tried to open his door has been released pending further investigation.

The incident happened at around 3:15 a.m. Sunday on Kaileolea Drive. 

Police say a 41-year-old man was trying to open the front door when the 33-year-old homeowner shot him.

Sources say the homeowner told his wife to call 911, then got his gun.

Sources say the suspect yelled for the person at the door to leave, then fired a single shot through the door, killing U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer John Ellsworth Hasselbrink.

EMS responded and pronounced Hasselbrink dead at the scene.

The Navy confirmed that Hasselbrink had mistakenly tried to enter a home other than his own. 

He was assigned to the Virginia-class submarine USS Illinois and served his entire 22-year career at Pearl Harbor.

Police arrested the homeowner for murder, but released him Tuesday.

Defense attorney Victor Bakke explained what police and prosecutors are looking for in deciding on charges.

"The prosecutor has to see if the facts are there to support a violation of the law," Bakke said. "But where they do have problem is most people feel that they have a right to defend our home."

Self-defense can be claimed in Hawaii only when "the actor believes that deadly force is necessary to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury."

"In this particular case, the victim hadn't actually entered the home and the victim was in fact shot through the door. Does that change things at all?" KHON2 asked Bakke.

"Absolutely," he replied. "It's a little hard to assess the threat and make the decision that the threat was so severe to justify the use of deadly force."

Bakke said that in Hawaii, deadly force cannot be used to protect property.

"It's not enough to just be breaking into the house, or breaking into the garage or breaking into the car. The shooter has to really believe that their physical person is in jeopardy," he explained. "If I thought the guy was going to steal my car, I don't get to shoot him. If I think he's going to steal my car and then run over me, then I can shoot him."

Former Judge Randal Lee said that police and prosecutors are likely still analyzing evidence, and if they aren't sure if there's enough evidence to fight the suspect's self-defense claim, they could take it to the grand jury to decide.


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