WAILUKU - Instead of felony assault charges, two Makawao men have been found guilty of lesser charges for assaulting a man who was injured in a fight at a cockfight in Haiku.
Brian Vierra, 47, and Guy Wicklund, 44, were each found guilty of a petty misdemeanor charge of third-degree assault by mutual affray.
A 2nd Circuit Court jury deliberated for about 2 days before returning the verdicts Monday afternoon.
"I want to thank the jury for their attention," said defense attorney Jon Apo, who represented Wicklund. "They were obviously very serious about their job."
Wicklund and Vierra had been charged with second-degree assault of Ronnie Kauai, who suffered multiple fractures to his pelvic bone when he was stomped on and kicked while attending the cockfight June 22, 2008, in the area known as Pine Trees in Haiku.
Dr. Rob Mastroianni testified Kauai's injuries were consistent with multiple blows with great force and the kind of injuries usually seen in car crashes.
Kauai's cousin, Zebulan Lindsey, testified he saw Vierra and Wicklund stomping on Kauai as he lay on the ground on his stomach while Vierra's cousin Alan Vierra held Kauai in a chokehold.
"I seen Brian and Guy stomping on him," Lindsey said. "They were standing side by side. They had work boots."
He said he didn't recognize others in the crowd who joined in by kicking Kauai.
Lindsey said he grabbed Alan Vierra, putting him in a chokehold as he held Kauai, to try to get Kauai away from the crowd.
"In pulling Alan, he saved his cousin Ronnie," Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani said in closing arguments to jurors last week. "He was screaming in pain. He was yelling, 'My hip, my leg.' ''
Lindsey said he carried Kauai, who couldn't walk, to the car about 100 yards away.
Witnesses said the conflict began with a confrontation between Kauai's wife, Terri, and Alan Vierra's wife over an earlier assault on the Kauais' 14-year-old daughter.
At one point, Brian Vierra grabbed Terri Kauai by the shoulder and put her in a neckhold, Tani said. He said witnesses also described Alan Vierra swinging at Ronnie Kauai and being knocked to the ground twice by Kauai before others got involved and Kauai was assaulted.
Tani said the Kauai family had gone to watch the cockfight and socialize.
"They didn't want to cause any trouble down there," Tani said. "In fact, the chicken fights would be the last place you would want to cause any trouble. There's a lot of money involved, a lot of people."
But attorney David Peterson, who represented Brian Vierra, questioned whether the Kauai family had really shown up to watch the cockfighting, noting they arrived at 6 p.m. and didn't have ladders or chairs. Terri Kauai had been calling Alan Vierra's wife for weeks, looking for an apology, Peterson said.
During his closing arguments, Peterson said witnesses had different versions of what happened.
"After listening to the many different versions of what happened that day, I don't see how you can find anything but reasonable doubt in this case," Peterson told jurors.
He said Kauai at first told the doctor he was stomped by a bull, then called the police three days later to report being assaulted.
"Now he's not even here as the state tries to convict the two men who allegedly assaulted him," Peterson said. "We have here five different stories from five different people. But we haven't heard from the one person who might be able to make sense of all this."
Apo also questioned why Kauai wasn't among prosecution witnesses at the trial.
"Where's Ronnie?" Apo asked. "There simply is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that my client is, other than helping a friend off the ground, guilty of anything."
Vierra and Wicklund are scheduled to be sentenced July 7 on the charge, which carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail.
Judge Joel August presided over the trial.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.