Charges amended in animal cruelty case

A Molokai man arrested in the shooting of three horses and a cow on private property last year has been released on bail after charges were amended in the case.

Nelson Rapanot Jr., 23, of Kalae was released Thursday after posting a $53,000 bail bond.

He is charged with first-degree criminal property damage, three counts of first-degree cruelty to animals, second-degree cruelty to animals, first-degree criminal trespassing and hunting on private lands.

Rapanot had been arrested Tuesday in the investigation that began after the shootings occurred between Feb. 7 and 8, 2012, on property along Kalae Highway in Kualapuu, police said.

A horse, valued at $25,000, that was about 10 months pregnant was killed along with a pregnant cow, valued at $2,000. A Palomino stallion, valued at $40,000, was put down after being shot in its left leg and having its bone shattered. Another pregnant horse was shot in the right side of its stomach but survived.

Police said Rapanot invoked his constitutional rights and did not provide a statement to police. A story that ran Thursday on Page A3 may have incorrectly given the impression that he confessed to police.

But in a written statement in April 2012, a woman said Rapanot “confessed to shooting the horses because he was mad he missed the deers he was hunting,” according to an affidavit filed in court to support the charges against Rapanot.

Last October, after another woman acknowledged receiving a text message from Rapanot about horses being shot, police requested an investigative subpoena to obtain incoming and outgoing calls from Rapanot’s phone and the woman’s phone on Oct. 19 and 20, the affidavit says. Police reported recovering 17 pages of text messages between Rapanot and the woman from 8:43 a.m. Oct. 19 to 9:35 p.m. Oct. 20 after a search warrant was executed for the stored communications in the cellular telephone provider’s storage servers.

Some of the text messages sent from the woman’s phone to Rapanot’s phone, and included in the affidavit, refer to shootings. A message sent from Rapanot’s phone to the woman’s phone says: “U better not tell any one else bra for reals.”

In August, the woman said Rapanot told her “he was currently being investigated for shooting the ‘horses’ up Kalae,” according to the affidavit. Rapanot reportedly told the woman “he had gone to Meyer’s Lake to hunt when he just started firing off rounds. He didn’t realize he struck anything because the horses and cows ran away until he noticed one of the horses had been shot in the leg,” the affidavit says.

Rapanot’s bail was originally set at $154,000. But when he made an initial appearance in Wailuku District Court on Wednesday, the prosecutor’s office amended some of the charges, resulting in the lower bail amount. The felony charge of first-degree animal cruelty applies to pets or horses. Other animals are covered in the misdemeanor charge of second-degree cruelty to animals.