An appellate court has overturned the murder conviction of one of the two teenagers accused of beating a taxi driver to death in 2010.
Kilani Derego was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for the beating death. The court said the judge in his trial should not have allowed the state to use his co-defendant’s police statements as evidence after he refused to testify.
Derego, who was 17 at the time, said he was not in Waipahu when the victim, Charlys Ty Tang, was punched and kicked in a parking lot of Times Super Market. Tang died from massive head and brain injuries.
Derego’s friend, then-18-year-old Michael Robles, testified at his own separate trial that Derego delivered the fatal punches and kicks. Robles said he didn’t intend to kill Tang and only kicked him to get the driver to release his grip on Derego.
A judge found Robles guilty of manslaughter and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.
But at Derego’s trial, Robles refused to testify, so the judge allowed prosecutors to use Robles’ police statement, which said he was with Derego but did not participate in the beating and tried to stop him.
The appeals court said that was a mistake also sent the case to circuit court for retrial.