Woman: Suspect lunged over her filming

WAILUKU – When she refused to stop filming as a man was being assaulted at a Kalama Park pavilion, a woman testified that the attacker jumped over a railing, grabbed a large tree branch and began chasing her.

“I was running,” Keli Toyama said Monday during a preliminary hearing in Wailuku District Court. “I was not trying to look at what he was doing.”

She and other witnesses pointed out the assailant as Kawika Leslie, who was arrested after the incident at about 12:30 p.m. March 19 at the Kihei park.

In court Monday, Judge Adrianne Heely ruled there was probable cause to support charges of first-degree terroristic threatening and attempted second-degree assault against Leslie, 21, who gave no local address. He is also charged with third-degree assault.

Kihei resident Dennis Fuleki said he went to the park that day to see someone when he was confronted by Leslie, who accused Fuleki of stealing his uncle’s wallet.

Fuleki testified he didn’t steal the wallet and was standing up to leave when he was hit on the left side of his head by Leslie. The defendant also swore at Fuleki and kicked him on the right side of his head, he said.

“I went down on the ground,” Fuleki said. “Everything happened so fast.”

Toyama was in a parked car, watching the ocean with her friend, Fernando Aponte, when she heard screaming coming from the pavilion. She said she saw Fuleki “getting attacked repeatedly, over and over,” while others tried to stop the attacker.

Toyama used her cellphone to film what was happening. When she walked around to where Leslie could see what she was doing, he asked her why she was filming him.

“I told him I was filming because something happened to one of my friends in the park,” Toyama said. “I’ll film anyone because no one deserves to get hurt in a public park like that.”

That’s when Leslie jumped over the railing, picked up the branch from the ground and chased her around a tree, Toyama said. The 5-foot-2 Toyama said the branch was “taller than me.”

“Did you feel threatened?” Deputy Prosecutor Lewis Littlepage asked.

“Yes,” Toyama replied.

She later found she had a cut on the side of her neck, but said she wasn’t sure how the injury occurred.

Aponte testified that he saw Leslie hit Fuleki in the face with a right blow, then kick Fuleki in the face. Fuleki didn’t fight back, Aponte said.

When he saw Leslie chase Toyama and “take a swipe at her with the branch,” Aponte said he intervened.

He said Leslie went to another part of the park where a friend held him until police arrived.

Kihei patrol officer Jayson Jones, who was among officers dispatched to the park, described Leslie as “flustered” and “still angry.”

Leslie told the officer he was struck in the face by Fuleki before Leslie hit Fuleki in the face twice. Then, Leslie said he noticed someone in the distance recording him and asked the person to stop. When the person didn’t, Leslie said “he got angry” and chased after the person, Jones said.

Leslie denied picking up a stick but said he kicked a stick when he hopped over the handrail, Jones said.

The officer said he was familiar with Leslie from previous dealings.

Leslie was videotaped in a widely viewed YouTube video showing a man yelling and swearing at people at Kalama Park last month.

Near the end of the hearing Monday, a sheriff’s deputy took Leslie out of the courtroom when he appeared to become agitated.

His bail remained at $11,000, with his arraignment scheduled for April 3 in 2nd Circuit Court. Leslie has been ordered to have no contact with Fuleki, Toyama and Aponte and to stay away from Kalama Park.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.