Man in terroristic threatening case ‘relieved’ his name cleared
A terroristic threatening conviction against Mark A. Anderson was dismissed last week, following an appeals court ruling last fall vacating the jury verdict and remanding the case back to 2nd Circuit Court, according to Anderson’s attorney.
Prosecutors filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the case, stemming from an incident near Hana on July 20, 2010, according to court records. Ben Lowenthal, Anderson’s attorney, said that the case has been dismissed without a hearing.
“Mr. Anderson is relieved that this judgment against him has been vacated, the case dismissed, and his name cleared,” Lowenthal said in a statement.
Attempts to reach officials in the county prosecutor’s office for comment Friday were unsuccessful.
Anderson was charged with first-degree terroristic threatening in a case that went to a jury trial in January 2011. In his closing arguments in the case, prosecutors charged that Anderson wanted to instill fear in two people who were squatting on property managed by Anderson in Hana, according to Maui News accounts of the trial. He allegedly brandished a 21-inch tree-trimming saw to threaten the two individuals.
Anderson’s attorney argued that the two complaining witnesses were not to be trusted due to contradictory statements; that Anderson, who was 51 at the time, made no attempt to escape or to hide the saw; and that the two witnesses were manipulating law enforcement officials to pursue charges against Anderson.
The jury found Anderson guilty of first-degree terroristic threatening and he was sentenced to five years’ probation and nine days in jail. Anderson continued to assert his innocence at his sentencing, according to a Maui News report.
Anderson appealed the verdict, arguing a Miranda rights violation and the improper exclusion of evidence. The state Intermediate Court of Appeals in September agreed with Anderson on both counts and vacated the jury verdict and remanded the case back to 2nd Circuit Court for a new trial.
In the appeals court judgment, prosecutors conceded errors on both points and concurred with the court’s decision to vacate the verdict and to remand the case.
The appeals court said that a statement made by Anderson that he wanted the arresting officer to shoot him should not have been admissible in the trial because the defendant did not waive his Miranda right to remain silent and to confer with counsel.
“We conclude that under the totality of the circumstances, including Anderson’s failure to acknowledge understanding his rights, the absence of an express waiver, Anderson’s irrational behavior and his request to be taken to the mental health ward, that Anderson did not validly waive his Miranda rights,” the appeals court said.
On the second point, Anderson argued that the Circuit Court erred by excluding evidence that the complaining witnesses were trespassers who had “made a mess” on the property he was managing. He said that the evidence would have shown a motive to fabricate claims against him.
The appeals court ruled that if the case is scheduled for retrial, Anderson is entitled to present the evidence to the jury.
Last week’s dismissal made these issues moot.
* Lee Imada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.