Suspected hit and run driver dumps lawyer - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Suspected hit and run driver dumps lawyer

Siaosi Feleunga Siaosi Feleunga
Lindsay Kane Lindsay Kane
Jerry Villanueva Jerry Villanueva
Karen Ahn Karen Ahn

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A driver accused of a deadly hit-and-run crash in Waipahu last year abruptly dumped his lawyer and decided not to accept a plea offer Tuesday.

Defendant Siaosi Feleunga has three pending cases, the most serious involves the death of a motorcyclist. But he caught everyone in the courtroom, including his own attorney, off-guard because the purpose of the hearing was for him to accept the prosecution's offer and change all of his not-guilty pleas.

After a sheriff frees him from his handcuffs, Siaosi Feleunga tries to free himself from his attorney.

"I would like to ask the court if you can remove Mr. Villanueva from my case," the defendant said.

Feleunga is charged with negligent homicide, failure to render aid, driving with a suspended license following a DUI, and multiple other counts.

Investigators say he fled the scene after a motorcycle collided with his truck on Farrington Highway near Waipahu Intermediate last December. The motorcyclist, Lindsay Kane, 47, died.

"He's telling me that we don't have a case," Feleunga said. "I would like to ask the court if I could please get another attorney to represent me on these charges. These are very serious charges, your honor."

The day after the crash, police located a damaged pickup on the street near Feleunga's home. Hawaii News Now has exclusive video of the recovery.

"As of right now, your honor, I'm confused," the defendant said. "I'm confused on which steps to take."

"Your honor, this is something that Mr. Feleunga has never discussed with me, even up until coming into this courtroom, as far as now being dissatisfied with my services," Jerry Villanueva, deputy public defender, said.

The judge agreed to appoint a new lawyer over an objection by prosecutors, who came to the hearing expecting the defendant to accept their plea offer and resolve three cases. Under the deal, Feleunga could have received a 10-year prison term for all of his charges, including the negligent homicide.

A trial is now set for January.

"As you say, the consequences are dire here and I think you've made enough of a record that I feel I should grant your motion," Karen Ahn, Circuit judge, said.

Feleunga has been in custody since his arrest in January.

His next request is to be on supervised release while awaiting trial. The judge is scheduled to hear that motion December 7th.

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