Peter Carlisle discusses Kenoi verdict - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Peter Carlisle discusses Kenoi verdict

A day after Big Island mayor Billy Kenoi was acquitted, former prosecutor Peter Carlisle stopped by on Sunrise to discuss the verdict with Grace Lee.

On Tuesday, Kenoi was found not guilty of five charges tied to his county purchasing card.

The jury foreman said the state failed to prove the mayor intended to steal from taxpayers.

"We understood both of their arguments and I think they both did the best they could with what they had to work with," Christian Robinson, the head juror, said. "The aspect of intent is really what it boiled down to for all of us."

It only took the jurors a day to reach a verdict, and Carlisle had said earlier in the week that if they came back quickly with a verdict, it would likely favor Kenoi.

He said he doesn't view the outcome as a failure of the prosecution because it was difficult to prove Kenoi had intent to fraud the taxpayers, more so because Kenoi paid back a partial amount and said he never intended to not pay back personal expenses charged to his county credit card.

However, Carlisle said when he was a city official, he doesn't recall himself or his peers purchasing large amounts of alcohol to please a guest. 

He also said the prosecution could have looked into whether the card Kenoi was using bearing interest. 

As for whether the prosecution made a mistake by taking the case to court in the first place, Carlisle says the prosecution made a right decision doing so, regardless of the outcome.

Carlisle said he doesn't see opposition or dislike for Kenoi playing a role because it went through the Attorney General's office, which has an ethical obligation to bring cases that are supported by probable cause.

Carlisle also said he believes Kenoi's future as a politician could continue, but if so, it would likely be kept within the limits of the Big Island.

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