Defense lawyer on hot seat as Roberts bus driver tries to take back plea

Steve Oshiro
Steve Oshiro
Peter Carlisle
Peter Carlisle

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A defense lawyer landed on the hot seat as a former tour bus driver, facing 10 years in prison for a deadly crash in Kahaluu, tried to take back his no-contest plea Tuesday.

Prosecutors estimate a trial would cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It's not every day a defense attorney is summoned to the witness stand.

"You ready to go?" attorney David Hayakawa was asked.

"Off we go," he replied while smiling.

Seven months ago, Hayakawa's client, Steve Oshiro, pleaded no contest to manslaughter.

On June 12, 2006, the tour bus he was driving crossed the center line of Kamehameha Highway and crushed an SUV. Corey Voss, 41, was killed.

"At the time that this case was barreling down to trial with witnesses lined up, he realized the inevitability of the result and changed his plea and sensibly did so," Peter Carlisle, Honolulu prosecutor, said.

But as the victim's devastated family and friends await sentencing, Oshiro decides he made a bad choice and now wants a trial.

"You just didn't want to try the case based on what you saw," Michael Green, Oshiro's new attorney, said to Hayakawa.

"I disagree," Hayakawa responded. "I did my best to give Mr. Oshiro my opinion on what was happening and what he should do."

Before the crash, Oshiro dropped off a group of visitors from Kansas. A passenger took video of the weaving bus.

Oshiro's new lawyer maintains the driver wasn't on drugs or alcohol, but was exhausted from working long hours. He's challenging the plea deal prosecutors made with the defendant.

"One of the issues is the Constitutionality of a portion that says you don't get bail if you want to have a trial," Green said. "It's not Russia."

The sentencing is delayed until the judge makes a decision on whether to grant Oshiro a trial. The hearing on that request continues September 17th.