Suspect in slaying faces examinations

Court proceedings have been suspended against a Kihei man charged with manslaughter in the death of a Longs Drug Store manager, while the suspect undergoes mental health examinations.

Three psychiatrists or psychologists have been appointed to assess Peter Schmidt’s current mental fitness, as well as his mental state at the time of the offenses, which occurred at about 5:30 a.m. Dec. 23 at the Kihei store.

According to police, store manager Jamie Hozaki and another employee followed Schmidt outside after he left the store without paying for a 30-pack of beer. Schmidt was in the driver’s seat of a white Ford sedan and Hozaki had opened the driver’s door when Schmidt suddenly reversed out of a parking stall, throwing Hozaki to the ground, according to witnesses.

After being admitted to Maui Memorial Medical Center with a severe brain injury, the 61-year-old Hozaki was pronounced dead Dec. 28.

Police arrested Schmidt, 29, the next day. He has been held at the Maui Community Correctional Center in lieu of $50,000 bail on charges of manslaughter and first-degree robbery.

In a Feb. 12 motion seeking the mental health examination, defense attorney Cary Virtue said Schmidt “suffers daily from auditory hallucinations and reports a history of schizophrenia, a major mental health illness, for which he is receiving psychotropic medication while housed at the Maui Community Correctional facility.”

Virtue said that before the date of the alleged offenses, “Schmidt reports that he had stopped taking his mental health medications and was not seeing his mental health care providers.”

Schmidt’s mother and siblings reported that he “has a lifelong history of mental health illness,” including some hospitalizations in King County, Wash., according to Virtue. He said Schmidt had moved to Maui within the past year.

With no opposition from the prosecution, 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill ordered the mental health examinations during a Feb. 21 hearing.

The psychiatrists or psychologists have been asked to assess Schmidt’s capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct and whether he is a danger to himself or others.

An April 4 return date was set for the mental health reports.