Trial for protester attempting to block telescope convoy set

The Maui News

A trial is set to begin Wednesday for one of six protesters arrested last year while trying to block a large vehicle convoy carrying equipment to the summit of Haleakala.

Samuel Kaleikoa Kaeo, 51, of Kula has pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct, obstructing a highway and refusing to comply with any police officer’s order.

He was arrested in the early-morning hours of Aug. 2 as dozens of protesters gathered at Kula Highway and Old Haleakala Highway to confront the convoy carrying equipment for construction of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope at the summit.

Officials said some protesters connected themselves with PVC pipes to block the road. A couple of protesters climbed under a semi-truck to keep it from moving.

During a hearing last month, Wailuku District Judge Blaine Kobayashi granted the prosecution’s request to have trial proceedings for Kaeo conducted in English.

Kaeo, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii Maui College, had asserted his right to speak the Hawaiian language in court and to have court proceedings translated back to him in Hawaiian. He waived his right to have an attorney represent him.

Four others arrested that night have been sentenced, court records show.

Joseph Henderson, 28, of Pukalani and Shalia Henderson, 18, of Pukalani were each ordered to perform 25 hours of community service after pleading guilty to refusing to comply with any police officer’s order.

David Prais, 39, of Kahului was given credit for one day of jail after pleading no contest Jan. 5 to refusing to comply with any police officer’s order.

Monika Kerr, 26, of Kahului pleaded no contest last week to refusing to comply with any police officer’s order. She was sentenced to a $500 fine, with $250 of that suspended on condition that she have no similar violations for one year.

Charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing a highway were dismissed for the sentenced defendants in exchange for their pleas.

Jonathan Kaeo, 43, of Pukalani is awaiting trial on charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing a highway and refusing to comply with any police officer’s order.

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