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Higher bail sought in attempted murder

WAILUKU — Saying a defendant poses an “extreme danger to the community,” a deputy prosecutor asked Friday for bail to be increased to $2 million for a man charged with attempted murder for allegedly driving toward a police officer in Wailuku.

Kaipo Lapenia-Lau, 25, of Kahului was arrested Tuesday morning after a police pursuit that ended at a residence off Kahekili Highway in Waihee.

Lapenia-Lau appeared by videoconference from the courthouse cellblock for his initial appearance Friday in Wailuku District Court.

He is charged with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault on a law enforcement officer, two counts of first-degree resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle and first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer.

Police were looking for Lapenia-Lau after he sped away from a traffic stop at 12:32 a.m. Tuesday in Wailuku, dragging an officer 3 to 4 feet, police said.

When officers approached his stopped vehicle at 9:05 a.m. Tuesday near Mill Street in Wailuku, Lapenia-Lau accelerated toward an officer, police said. That officer and another officer at the scene fired their police guns at the vehicle, police said.

Lapenia-Lau wasn’t struck by the shots, police said.

Police set bail for Lapenia-Lau at $1.75 million, said Deputy Prosecutor Byron Fujieda.

In court Friday, Fujieda said the alleged facts and charges “indicate an extreme danger to the community, as well as an extreme flight risk.”

The charges reflect that Lapenia-Lau was “putting officers in harm’s way while trying to escape” and almost ran over an officer, causing the officer to fire shots, Fujieda said.

The prosecution asked to increase bail to $2 million based on an additional charge of attempted first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer, Fujieda said.

“We believe it is fair and appropriate to have bail set at that high amount,” Fujieda said. “We have no confidence that, if released on supervised release, he will return to court.”

Deputy Public Defender Gustavo Gonzalez said the defense was “vehemently opposed” to the request to increase bail.

He said Lapenia-Lau wanted to be released on supervision.

His criminal history includes convictions for open container, failure to appear and contempt of court, as well as traffic matters, Gonzalez said.

“He has been working full time in a union job for nine years under the direct supervision of his father,” Gonzalez said. “We do not believe he is a flight risk.”

Fujieda said the concern about flight risk was based on the attempted first-degree murder charge. A conviction on that charge carries a penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In keeping bail at $1.75 million, Judge Kirstin Hamman said that, based on the charges and Lapenia-Lau’s record, “the court does feel that the current bail amount is appropriate.”

Lapenia-Lau was being held at the Maui Community Correctional Center.

If he posts bail and is released, he was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to report for supervision and random testing.

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

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