Man found guilty of threatening woman with knife

WAILUKU — A former tenant who was seen pointing and waving a knife in a slashing motion at a woman outside her Haiku home was found guilty Thursday of a felony threatening charge.

A 2nd Circuit Court jury deliberated for about an hour before returning the verdict, convicting Donald McFee, 33, of first-degree terroristic threatening.

“He pointed that knife,” Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani said in his closing arguments to jurors Thursday morning. “He waved it in front of her face. He’s yelling and screaming and swearing at her.”

Homeowner Deborah Waltrip said she and a tenant had been upstairs watching television when she heard a commotion and went outside at 7:25 p.m. May 15. “The geese were honking, and I heard yelling,” she testified.

Waltrip, who walks with a crutch, said she saw someone crouched between a trailer and car parked outside the fence of her property. When she went closer and saw it was McFee, “I told him he needed to leave immediately,” she said.

She said McFee ignored her and was yelling and swearing when she called the police nonemergency number. Waltrip said she was about 3 feet away when “he pulled out a huge knife and waved it.”

After about 5 seconds, Waltrip said McFee put the knife back into a holder on his belt and walked down the street to her garage, where Walter Gouveia was living. Waltrip said her other tenant was keeping an eye on McFee, who knocked on Gouveia’s door.

About a half-hour earlier, Gouveia had run into McFee at a Haiku laundromat, Tani said. When McFee said he wanted to visit Gouveia, “immediately Walter told the defendant, ‘No, that’s not a good idea. You’re not welcome. You still owe Deborah money,’ ” Tani said during closing arguments to jurors Thursday morning.

When McFee appeared at the garage, Gouveia again said he wasn’t welcome, Tani said.

McFee left the garage area and began walking back up the road, staying on the side of the street closest to Waltrip’s house, Tani said.

Waltrip was standing about 1 foot back from her gate when McFee walked up and waved the 10- to 12-inch knife about 2 to 3 feet from her face, she said.

“He’s yelling, some Hawaiian, some English, and swearing a lot,” Waltrip said.

She said she backed up “because I was scared.”

For 10 to 15 seconds, she said McFee pointed the knife at her chest and face and was swinging it back and forth.

“Were you concerned at all?” Tani asked.

“Yes, very,” Waltrip said. “I was terrified.”

McFee had been a tenant at her residence for about six months before he was given notice to leave, which he did in March, Waltrip said.

Defense attorney Jon Apo, in his closing argument, said there was conflicting testimony by Waltrip and Gouveia. Apo also said there was a “lack of evidence,” questioning why the prosecution hadn’t presented the recording of Waltrip’s call to police.

“They throw two of the best prosecutors in front of a jury and ask you to find him guilty,” Apo said.

Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Temas assisted Tani in the case.

Apo questioned why another tenant, who was there throughout the incident, hadn’t been called to testify. Waltrip said the tenant had moved to California.

“This is a trumped-up charge that at worst should be a disorderly conduct case or a trespassing case,” Apo said.

Tani said three people had each twice told McFee to leave, “and he ignores it each time.”

“He does what he wants to do,” Tani said.

McFee, who gave no local address, posted $6,000 bail to be released from jail. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 23 on the charge, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

Judge Rhonda Loo presided over the trial, which began Tuesday.

According to court records, a $25,000 bench warrant was issued last month for McFee, who is charged with two counts of felony abuse in another case. McFee admitted to marijuana and methamphetamine use in December, according to an affidavit filed in the abuse case.

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

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