WAILUKU - A red T-shirt and a Lahaina police detective's diligent investigation led to the arrests of three men implicated in a home invasion scheme at a Napili apartment last month, court records show.
The burglary occurred around 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13 when two men burst through a screen door into the apartment while a 54-year-old man and his girlfriend were watching television. The intruders wore dark clothing and had shirts covering their faces.
The resident threw a wooden table at one intruder, striking the suspect and breaking the table. The girlfriend ran out of the apartment and down the stairs, managing to get away while chased by the second intruder.
Meanwhile, inside the apartment, the two men got into a wrestling match, with the resident putting the intruder in a headlock. The second burglar returned and, after his cohort called for help, picked up a broken wooden table leg and stabbed the resident three to four times on the right side of his torso.
The resident let go of the first burglar, and both intruders ran out of the apartment and fled. The resident was taken by ambulance to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where he was treated for a 3-inch laceration about an inch deep under his right armpit, as well as lacerations to his face and legs.
When police responded to the apartment, the victims couldn't identify the burglars.
But the red T-shirt, bearing the words "Corrupted Inc. Clothing Company," was left behind by one of the two men who fled the apartment after the burglary went awry.
"Later, the T-shirt would prove to be a valuable piece of evidence in helping to identify the responsibles," Detective Derrick Lopez wrote in his report, which was filed in court to support charges against the suspects.
The victim had been shopping at Napili Market just before the break-in.
Lopez considered the possibility that the suspects had watched the victim in the store and followed him home, or that they lived in nearby Napilihau or had parked their vehicle at Napili Plaza, where the market is.
Video surveillance from the market showed the victim entering the store at 5:52 p.m., followed 17 minutes later by a man wearing a red T-shirt. The man in the red T-shirt spoke to another man, then walked out of the store with a third man. The victim left several minutes later.
Doing further investigation, Lopez identified the man wearing the red T-shirt as 28-year-old Lahaina resident Noah Mariano, who was arrested Nov. 18. Co-defendant Keoki Cuelho, 31, of Honokowai, was arrested the next day and identified as the suspect who stabbed the resident, according to police.
On Nov. 23, police arrested the third suspect, 34-year-old Lahaina resident Dylan Skalko, who was seen talking to Mariano in the store. Police said investigation showed Skalko formerly lived in the same apartment complex as the victim, knew he had marijuana and came up with a plan to burglarize the unit to steal the recently harvested drug.
Skalko reportedly went with the other two men to the complex that night but didn't go into the apartment.
Police reported recovering 255 grams of marijuana from the apartment.
All three men have pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree burglary and second-degree assault, with a Feb. 1 trial date set in 2nd Circuit Court.
During bail hearings earlier this month, 2nd Circuit Judge Joel August kept bail at $150,000 for Mariano while reducing bail to $75,000 each for Cuelho and Skalko.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.