WAILUKU - A Kahului man was found guilty of abuse for striking a 6-year-old boy, in a case where an error led to the opposite verdict being announced at first.
When a 2nd Circuit Court jury returned to the courtroom with the verdict Tuesday afternoon, a court clerk read the verdict form saying Joseph "Joe" Kahanu Jr. was not guilty.
But after the jury foreman appeared to question the verdict, Deputy Prosecutor Evans Smith requested that the jury be polled. Asked if they agreed with the not-guilty verdict, all 12 jurors answered no.
Judge Richard Bissen instructed jurors to return to the jury room with a new verdict form.
A few minutes later, the jury returned with a verdict finding Kahanu guilty. Questioned again, all 12 jurors said they agreed with that verdict.
Kahanu, 36, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 27 on the misdemeanor charge, which carries a mandatory penalty of 48 hours in jail and domestic violence classes.
Smith said the 5-foot-9, 300-pound Kahanu, who is the live-in boyfriend of the boy's mother, was convicted of punching the boy in the forehead while the boy was bouncing on the seat as the two sat in a truck parked in a Kahului neighborhood July 19.
A dime-sized injury was visible on the forehead of the boy, who suffered an abrasion and bruising, Smith said
Deputy Public Defender Jim Rouse told jurors that Kahanu had poked the boy in the forehead to discipline him.
In his 13 years of doing trial work, Rouse said, it was the first time he had encountered a situation where a verdict was announced finding a defendant not guilty before it was determined that the wrong box had been checked on the verdict form.
"It's considered a clerical error. Nothing illegal occurred," Rouse said. "Obviously, we have to accept the verdict."