Trial begins for freeway shooting that left teen boy paralyzed - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Trial begins for freeway shooting that left teen boy paralyzed

Scott Bell Scott Bell
David Bettencourt David Bettencourt

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An attempted murder trial began Monday for a young man accused of a shooting on Moanalua Freeway that left a 16-year-old boy paralyzed from the chest down.

Prosecutors say Joshua Gonda pulled out a revolver and opened fire on a car, nearly killing two teens. But the defense told the jury the wrong man is on trial.

Police took a picture of Roger Curioso moments after he was shot while riding in his friend's car on Moanalua Freeway in July 2008. The photo shows a bullet on the victim's lap. Another was lodged against his spine.

"The paralysis was immediate," Scott Bell, deputy prosecutor, said. "Roger Curioso, then 16, will never walk again."

The windshield also took a hit, as did the baseball cap that driver Jay Baoas was wearing. He wasn't hurt.

Joshua Gonda is accused firing a revolver until it was empty, from another car on the freeway.

Prosecutors say tensions were rising between groups of young men from Waipahu and Kalihi. However,

"The attack was unprovoked and completely unexpected," Bell said.

The defense says the prosecution's case is filled with holes and its witnesses keep changing their stories.

"Whoever squeezed the trigger causing the firearm injuries to Roger deserves no sympathy, no mercy," David Bettencourt, defense attorney, said. "He deserves a judgment but, unfortunately, you won't be rendering that because he's not in this courtroom."

At the time of the shooting, the defendant was facing a year in federal custody for selling crystal methamphetamine near a school.

He says he was implicated in the freeway incident after he gave police information about an Aliamanu home invasion in which a resident, Timothy Lapitan, was shot and paralyzed.

"You'll see that he's the most improbable person to commit this offense amongst those people that the government claims were in the car," Bettencourt said.

If convicted of attempted murder, Gonda faces life in prison with the possibility of parole. The trial continues Tuesday.

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