Murder defendant asks to be released pending trial - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Murder defendant asks to be released pending trial

Wayne Tashima Wayne Tashima

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It was an emotional day in an Oahu courtroom, as an accused killer asked to be released from custody pending his trial.

Christopher Alesna's attorney says facing a murder charge is not something his client, who has no prior arrests, wanted to have happen in his life.

As soon as the defendant enters the courtroom, Jade Powers' tears begin to flow.

It's been four months since her brother, Khaynava Phanthanouvong, was gunned down. Her family's emotions are still raw.

"State of Hawaii versus Christopher Alesna," the court clerk announced.

Christopher Alesna wants to be free pending trial.

Investigators say he went to Ala Moana Beach Park for a fight, and opened fire on Phanthanouvong. The 18-year-old died from multiple gunshot wounds.

"My client was actually called out by the deceased person in this case, was threatened to contact him or he'd be after him one way or another," Samuel King, defense attorney, said. "The only reason my client was at the scene was because of that."

The defense asks the judge to place Alesna on supervised release, or at least reduce his bail.

"I explained to his mother that any violation of any kind, even if he comes home late, that needs to be reported right away," King said. "And she fully understands."

But prosecutors consider the accused killer a flight risk, and say the bail amount of $150,000 is reasonable.

"Should he be able to raise that amount of money and be released, that's a lot of money and he would think twice about doing anything stupid or leaving the country," Wayne Tashima, deputy prosecutor, said.

The judge rejects Alesna's request.

"Motion is denied," Steven Alm, Circuit judge, said. "Bail is confirmed."

The handcuffs go back on, to the relief of the victim's grieving family.

"I'm too, I'm too emotional right now," Jade Powers, victim's sister, said through tears. "I'm just glad it didn't, the judge didn't approve it."

Alesna is also charged with two firearms offenses. Trial is set for March.

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