HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new court filing Monday lists a Kahala businessman as being a “possible suspect” in the 2013 theft of the mailbox outside the Kealohas’ home.
But the businessman told Hawaii News Now that he was stunned to be added to the case.
And he said he doesn’t understand why he would be singled out.
One bizarre detail he recalled, however: A few years ago, he said, ex-deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha showed up at his office unannounced and asked if he had noticed anything suspicious in the area. He said he hadn’t, and she left her business card.
The man takes almost daily walks around the neighborhood and he said that Kealoha told him her cameras captured him during one of those walks.
That image is now part of the exhibit list for the so-called “mailbox trial.”
Hawaii News Now is not naming the man because he has never been mentioned before in connection with the case and he does not match the description of the person seen on the video surveillance of the mailbox theft.
He said after Kealoha left her business card, she asked him to call her if he remembered anything that could help with the investigation.
The card, which HNN obtained, said: “Department of the Prosecuting Attorney” and lists Katherine Kealoha as a supervisor.
The attorneys for the Kealohas would not comment on the man’s sudden insertion into the case ― on the same day that jury selection began ― and it is unlikely the Kealohas will back down on their constant claim that her uncle, Gerard Puana, is the man in the surveillance video.
He was exonerated of the crime and is now considered the victim of the alleged conspiracy by Katherine Kealoha, her husband, ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha, retired HPD Maj. Gordon Shiraishi, HPD Lt. Derek Hahn and Officer Bobby Nguyen.
The government says the group allegedly framed Puana for the June 21, 2013, crime because of an apparent family feud over money.
The new list of exhibits was filed as 413 prospective jurors converged on the Blaisdell Center for the first day of jury selection.
The jurors completed a lengthy questionnaire that included queries like:
- Have you ever had mail stolen from your mailbox?
- Are you familiar with any recent investigations or charges concerning former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a former deputy city prosecutor?
- Have you or someone close to you ever been the victim of a crime?
The large jury pool is necessary because of the intense pretrial publicity over the past five years.
Attorney Myles Breiner, who represented the Kealohas before they were granted taxpayer funded lawyers, said it will be very tough to find anyone impartial in the case.
“Everyone has an opinion," he said.
Ken Lawson, of the University of Hawaii Law School, disagrees. Out of the 1.4 million people in the islands, the courts will be able to find 12 who can be open minded.
“It’s not about how much publicity has been given in the case, it’s whether or not, after you have heard that publicity, can you still be a fair juror?”
The attorneys involved in the case are now working to review the questionnaires to narrow down the pool to a more manageable 45-50 people.
Those remaining will then be brought in to the federal courthouse for questions and interviews to determine any bias.
It is expected to take more than a week to get the 12 jurors plus 4 alternates.
This is the first of three federal trials for Katherine Kealoha.
The second trial for Katherine and Louis Kealoha involves financial fraud and identity theft charges and is expected to start later this year.
Katherine’s third trial will follow. She and her brother, Dr. Rudy Puana, are accused of drug and gun crimes.