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Judge rules for separate trials for man charged with attempted murder

Defense contends that weapons and ammunition cases entirely different

WAILUKU — A man charged with attempted murder in a shooting last year in Wailuku will have a separate trial on charges alleging he illegally possessed firearms and ammunition found in a search of his residence.

Second Circuit Judge Peter Cahill on Tuesday granted Frank Coricelli’s request to separate two charges from nine other counts in the attempted-murder case.

Coricelli, 57, was arrested July 26 after he reportedly fired shots during an argument with a neighbor that afternoon, police said.

No one was injured.

In a search of Coricelli’s residence on North Market Street the following day, police reported finding seven pistols, seven rifles, a shotgun, four silencers and ammunition.

Coricelli has pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, first-degree burglary, two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, two counts of being a felon in possession of ammunition, two counts of first-degree reckless endangering and two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening.

The prosecution dismissed three other counts of possession of a prohibited weapon or device.

In a motion filed by Deputy Public Defender Ben Lowenthal, the defense said the firearms and ammunition charges resulting for the search should be separated from the other charges “to avoid the dangers of unfair prejudice.”

The police officers who executed the search warrant and seized the firearms and ammunition were different from the officers who investigated the confrontation between Coricelli and his neighbor, the motion said.

In opposing the request to separate the charges, Deputy Prosecutor Annalisa Bernard Lee said the police recovery of the additional firearms and ammunition “did arise from the same episode” as the shooting.

Police were searching for the gun used in the shooting when they executed the search warrant at Coricelli’s residence, Bernard Lee said. “It just so happened they found all these other guns and ammunition,” she said.

Judge Cahill granted the defense request to separate the charges for trial.

“I do think that the state correctly charged this together, but there are some issues here,” Cahill said. “Yes, the finding of the other weapons is incident to what happened the day before, but they really are separate and distinct crimes. It’s just coincidental that they discovered these weapons where they discovered them.”

Cahill said the trial on the gun and ammunition charges would be held first, starting March 9.

Coricelli is being held in lieu of $636,000 bail at the Maui Community Correctional Center.

Police said Coricelli’s prior convictions were in California and Nevada.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.