HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In 2014, Derrick Hernandez was arrested for the fatal stabbing of a 42-year-old man at a Maili beach park.
He’s been behind bars ever since, awaiting trial. Until this week, when he was let free.
The alleged killer was released from jail ― and the second-degree murder charge against him dropped ― because of persistent delays in the man’s prosecution.
Essentially, the state had to release Hernandez because he didn’t get a speedy trial.
The sequence of events has flabbergasted and angered the family of Hernandez’s victim, Frankie Feliciano. They say they don’t understand how prosecutors could have dropped the ball on what appeared to be an open-and-shut case.
“When I found that out I was like, ‘Wow, how can this be?’ This guy killed my brother you know? How can he be released?” said Franklin Feliciano.
The city Prosecutor’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.
Because the case was dismissed without prejudice, prosecutors can charge Hernandez again for second-degree murder.
But in the meantime, Hernandez would conceivably be free to be in the community.
Circuit Court Judge Paul Wong dismissed the case after ruling that Hernandez’s time under mental health treatment and other delays counted against the speedy trial deadlines.
Hernandez’s attorney, Ben Ignacio, said the rules are simple.
“I don’t think this is a situation of the prosecutors dropping the ball. I don’t think this is a situation of a judge making a wrong decision," Ignacio said. “An accumulate delay resulted, which was enough of a delay that the rules require that the case be dismissed.”
The victim’s family and friends say that explanation isn’t good enough.
“We are really mad right now. He took our loved one from us," said Frankie’s sister, Frande Feliciano. "My brother was a quiet guy and he never bothered nobody. So, it’s a big loss in our family.”