HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi is on trial for 5 counts including a felony theft charge. Today, we expect closing arguments for both sides after he was accused of misusing a county issued credit card.
Longtime attorney Paul Cunney believes that the jury deliberations will be short for multiple reasons. First of all, he believes the jury has already made up its mind. Also, after years of working with juries, he's expects something he's calling the "Halloween effect". It's similar to what happens in the east coast when a jury knows there will be bad weather in the afternoon, they tend to speed up their decision making. This time, Cunney believes they jury will make a decision by the end of the day, maybe even earlier, so they can go trick-or-treating with their kids or grandchildren. Cunney also pointed out that there were only 5 days of the trial, so there is not a lot for the jury to ponder over during their deliberations.
Cunney said that the state has a tremendous burden because they have to show that Kenoi intended to permanently take the money from taxpayers. Since he's still in office and he never said that was his intent, Cunney believes, there is no real case against Kenoi.
The most compelling argument came from former managing director Bill Takaba, who said that Kenoi was authorized to use the county card however he wanted, as long as he reimbursed the county says Cunney. Takaba also pointed out that as far as he was concerned, the mayor had not done anything wrong.
As for the decision to put Kenoi on the stand, Cunney said he had to do it. He had to tell the jury what his state of mind was when he used the county issued credit card and tell them that he wasn't trying to steal. He would never take money from the people of Hawaii County. Cunney believes that he had a compelling argument, that he was raised to know the difference between right and wrong. He bared his soul that day, according to Cunney and he said, it was effective.
Without question, Cunney believes that Kenoi will be acquitted before the day is over. He also believes that he still has a political career and that was part of the reason he took the stand. He needed to show the state, that he's still a good guy.