Driver involved in deadly crash goes on trial for manslaughter - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Driver involved in deadly crash goes on trial for manslaughter

Justin Amorin Justin Amorin
Deputy Prosecutor Sean Sanada Deputy Prosecutor Sean Sanada
Reginald Minn Reginald Minn
Gillian Badua Gillian Badua
Gavin Watson Gavin Watson

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Emotions ran high in an Oahu courtroom Wednesday, as trial began for a young driver involved in a deadly crash in Mililani two years ago.

Justin Amorin is charged with manslaughter and assault. The defense says Amorin's conduct was not reckless, and that he's guilty of much lesser charges.

Prosecutors say the teenager who was killed was looking forward to her high school prom and graduation.

It was a fiery crash that shattered a peaceful night in a Mililani neighborhood. Prosecutors say two cars were traveling at "phenomenal" speeds on Lanikuhana Avenue in February 2007, when a Volkswagon Jetta spun out of control, jumped a curb and slammed into a tree.

"The car was nothing but a demolished heap of crushed steel engulfed in flames," Sean Sanada, deputy prosecutor, said.

The back-seat passenger, Gillian Badua, 17, was pinned in the wreckage and died.

The front-seat passenger, Gavin Watson, 17, was thrown from the car, spent 41 days in a coma and was partially paralyzed.

Their driver, Justin Amorin, is now on trial for manslaughter and assault.

"He was the man who had his foot on the pedal," Sanada said. "He was the man who had his hands on the wheel. He was the man responsible for all of this chaos."

Prosecutors say a former Honolulu police traffic investigator will testify that Amorin's car was going at least 80 mph, which is more than three times the posted speed limit of 25 mph.

But the defense questions the accuracy of his speed calculation.

"Mr. Lurbe is not any kind of mathematician or physicist or engineer," Reginald Minn, defense attorney, said. "He's a policeman that went to some of these classes."

Amorin's attorney tells the jury Badua had methamphetamine in her system and was fighting with her boyfriend, Bernard Kawehi Decoito. The defense suggests Decoito, who was driving the second car, was chasing the Jetta.

"The evidence is going to show you that (Amorin) is trying to take her away from him," Minn said.

The second driver is also charged with manslaughter and assault, and is awaiting trial.


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