HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Potasi Uta Jr. made his court appearance in his blue jail jumpsuit. His preliminary hearing for negligent homicide, DUI and causing a deadly accident is Wednesday. His bail is set at $100,000.
He's accused of plowing into a family and killing 3 year old Ashton Brown and hospitalizing four other members of the Brown family including the mother and three children last week in Makaha.
After the brief court appearance Uta walked out waiving and blowing kisses to his family including some of his own eight kids, four grandkids and other relatives.
"I watched him walk away, it was just so fast, five seconds and I felt like I'm never going to see him again. But he is a strong man and we are a strong family and we are going to stick together," said Azure Suesue, Uta's niece.
In court documents the arresting officer says he saw Uta speeding away with his bumper dragging on the road creating sparks. Both air bags had been deployed.
Once pulled over the officer noticed Uta's eyes were red and glassy and he was slurring his speech. Uta also failed the sobriety test and refused to take the breathalyzer test. After being taken to a police substation Uta refused to take the mandatory blood test and had to be physically restrained in order to draw blood to get his blood alcohol level.
His sister Mabel Uta explained what he was doing the night of the fatal crash.
"He was with me that night. It was my birthday. He was coming from one of our friend's house and we was going to go home," said Mabel Uta, sister. "I was supposed to drive but I was saying my goodbyes to other friends. He was tired and wanted to go home so..."
Instead of waiting she says he got behind the wheel despite being legally drunk.
He also had a suspended license. That's when he allegedly crashed into the bus stop killing three year old Ashton Brown and hospitalizing four others.
"It's senseless. If we could take it back we would," said Mabel Uta.
The family hopes to raise funds for the victims and has set up an account with Bank of Hawaii.
"I know we cannot give you back your son but just know you have become a big part of our life as well. You have become a part of our family and we are here for you with open arms," said Esther Willets, Uta's niece. "We're trying to raise funds to help this poor family out because we know they have to bury their child and we know what it takes because a lot of us, we all lost loved ones and we know that it's pricey."
Uta was released from prison nine days before the crash after serving a 10 year sentence for first degree burglary. He has been convicted 11 times for felonies and misdemeanors and a previous DUI.
"Everyone will have their opinions. They're entitled to their opinions and we know that everyone will speak out of anger and that's normal. Just know we are the type of people, we are loving people and we will be here for everyone in this situation," said Willets. "Put it this way let it be a lesson learned to anybody who decides to drink to please be responsible because this can happen to anybody and I for one cannot say that I've never done it and you know what now that it has hit home for my family I've taken that stand on my own to know that I'm never going to do this again."
The Bank of Hawaii account is called the Brown Family Memorial Fund. The account number is 0088-152522.