Kaimuki murder suspect now charged with robbing elderly woman

Kaimuki murder suspect now charged with robbing elderly woman

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The man arrested in connection with the murder of a well-known newspaper salesman in Kaimuki is now charged with attacking an elderly woman in the Ward Village Shops.

"I am just so blessed and so thankful that God was there watching over her," says Denise Yamada, the victim's daughter.

Yamada says her 75-year old mother never saw the attack coming. The elderly Kaimuki woman was loading groceries into her car in the parking lot of the Marukai Wholesale Store at the Ward Village Shops Wednesday morning. She was hit in the back of the head with an aluminum baseball bat. The robber then grabbed her purse and rummaged through her car right in front of her 3-year old neighbor who she was babysitting.

A short time later, 30-year old Gary Lee Landis was arrested. He is charged with Robbery and Unauthorized Entry into A Motor Vehicle. But Yamada says Landis should not have been on the streets in the first place.

"A lot of it could have been prevented if something was done about the legal system," says Yamada.

Landis had just been released from jail days earlier. He is accused of murdering 70-year old Thaddeus Pirga, a newspaper salesman in Kaimuki. Pirga, was stabbed to death late last year.

Months later, HPD released surveillance pictures of the suspected killer and tips led them to Landis who was arrested on June 2, but Released Pending Investigation, or RPI.

Sources say, Honolulu Police took the case to the Prosecutor's office which declined to support a charge at the time.

"It could be that it's one of the ones that require a tremendous amount of further investigation, forensic efforts," says former Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle.

University of Hawaii Law Professor Ken Lawson also says once charges are filed, defendants have the right to a speedy trial so waiting for evidence can be an issue.

"If I try that case and I don't have enough evidence, then double jeopardy precludes me from trying that person again," says Lawson.

Denise Yamada's mother had 12 staples in her head and is recovering at home. Yamada hopes Landis stays in jail, this time. His bail is set at $125,000. Landis has 18 prior arrests and, apparently, targets the elderly.

"It can happen anytime any place, nowadays you just really have to be careful where you are," says Yamada.

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