Scientists see gain in volcano activity

HILO — Scientists on Hawaii island are monitoring increasing activity surrounding one of the Big Island’s volcanoes.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday that The Hawaii Volcano Observatory is closely monitoring Mauna Loa as conditions have risen to levels comparable to a more active period between 2014 and 2017.

Officials say it is too early to predict possible outcomes.

Officials say there have been increased earthquakes and ground deformation around Mauna Loa’s summit.

Officials say earthquakes on Mauna Loa dropped to less than five per week in early 2018, but there have been up to 90 earthquakes weekly since August, with most considered mild at 2.0 or less on the Richter scale.

An eruption last year by Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano destroyed more than 700 homes from May through August.

Jury finds man guilty of murder

KEALAKEKUA, Hawaii — A Hawaii man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in a shooting that killed one man and injured another.

West Hawaii Today reports that a jury returned a guilty verdict Thursday for 50-year-old Brian Lee Smith of Honaunau. Smith was facing charges in the June 2018 shooting that killed Thomas Ballesteros Jr. and injured Nikolaus Slavik.

Smith was found guilty of second-degree murder, as well as first-degree reckless endangerment in relation to the assault on Slavik. He also was found guilty on two counts of ownership or possession (firearm) prohibited and two counts of carrying or use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony.

Smith’s sentencing is scheduled for June 26. He faces life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Former Navy travel clerk sentenced

HONOLULU — A Kauai woman who worked as a travel clerk for the Navy has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for defrauding the U.S. government of nearly $365,000.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Rowenalynn Yorkman was sentenced last week.

As part of Yorkman’s job she tracked and reviewed personnel travel claims. Prosecutors say she used a co-worker’s account to enter false information and create fraudulent voucher amendments for expenses travelers didn’t incur. She then approved the voucher amendments for payment into her own bank account.

Yorkman must pay back the nearly $365,000 stolen and serve three years of supervised release.