2 Kahakuloa men accused of hate crime
Prosecutors ask that defendants be held without bail
The prosecution is asking to have two men held without bail after they were charged with a hate crime for what was described as a racially motivated attack on a white man who was trying to move into the defendants’ Native Hawaiian neighborhood in Kahakuloa.
Kaulana Alo Kaonohi and Levi Aki Jr., both 31, were arrested Friday morning after being indicted last month by a federal grand jury, records show.
Both were being held Monday at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu, pending their arraignments by telephone today before Magistrate Judge Wes Reber Porter in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.
Both Alo Kaonohi and Aki were placed on four years’ probation when they were sentenced in 2019 in 2nd Circuit Court in connection with the attack on Christopher Kunzelman on Feb. 13, 2014. Alo Kaonohi had pleaded no contest to first-degree assault, while Aki had pleaded no contest to first-degree terroristic threatening.
Speaking at the defendants’ sentencing hearings, Kunzelman said he was planning to spend his first night at the house in Kahakuloa Village on Kahekili Highway when the defendants approached the property from the rocky beach.
The defendants began yelling at Kunzelman and his uncle to pack their belongings and leave, according to a memorandum filed in federal court to support the request to hold Alo Kaonohi without bail.
The defendants punched, kicked and beat Kunzelman with a shovel, “knocking him unconscious, giving him a concussion and breaking several of his ribs,” according to the memorandum. Kunzelman’s physician reported that the injuries “created a substantial risk of death,” according to the memorandum.
It said that during the assault, Alo Kaonohi and Aki referred to Kunzelman as a “f—ing haole,” said he didn’t belong there and said his skin was “the wrong f—ing color” and “too f—ing white” for their neighborhood. The defendants also warned Kunzelman that “no white man is ever going to live in this house or neighborhood,” according to the memorandum.
Despite the realtor’s warning not to buy the property because “they do not like white people in the village,” Kunzelman and his wife bought the foreclosed property “sight unseen” because his wife was ill and it was her dream to live in Hawaii, according to the memorandum.
After the attack, Kunzelman drove to the police station and was later taken to the hospital.
In July 2014, three days after police tried to serve an arrest warrant on Alo Kaonohi for the February attack, he “committed a second unprovoked attack on a white-skinned person, this time at the Steel Horse Saloon” on Lower Main Street in Wailuku, according to the memorandum. It said surveillance video showed the victim by the bar when Alo Kaonohi approached from behind and tapped the other man on the shoulder. When the victim turned around, Alo Kaonohi “reared back and punched him in the face,” knocking the victim to the ground, the memorandum said. Then Alo Kaonohi jumped on top of the man “and continued to pummel him while several patrons tried, unsuccessfully, to pull Defendant off of the bloody and unconscious” victim before Alo Kaonohi eventually decided to leave, according to the memorandum.
It said the victim suffered a gash on his scalp requiring five staples to close, a concussion and permanent brain injuries.
Alo Kaonohi pleaded no contest to second-degree assault and was sentenced to a one-year jail term as part of four years’ probation in that case. His sentence later was modified to allow him to serve the time only on weekends.
In October, Alo Kahonohi was arrested for abuse of his girlfriend, who later told officers she didn’t want to pursue the case, the memorandum says.
“This pattern of violent conduct, disregard for the law and lack of remorse shows that Defendant is a clear and present danger to the community,” the memorandum said.
If convicted of committing a hate crime, Alo Kaonohi and Aki could face up to 10 years in prison.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.