Homicide case dropped after 3rd witness refuses to testify

Homicide case dropped after 3rd witness refuses to testify

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Prosecutors can refile charges in a murder case that was dismissed last week after a third witness refused to testify.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports (http://bit.ly/21Braw2 ) prosecutors have asked police to expedite forensic evidence testing in the New Year's Day shooting death of 59-year-old Barton Bumatay.

The suspect, Eric Fontes Jr., is in jail facing unrelated drug charges.

Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Hashizaki said Friday that the state had no evidence to pursue the case without the three witnesses, whose attorneys advised them against testifying.

Prosecution witnesses were not offered immunity and invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in court.

Court-appointed attorney Cody Frenz unsuccessfully argued for the charges to be dismissed without the possibility of refiling. He said his client was prepared to offer a defense that includes alibi witnesses.

Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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