Doctors: Key witness won’t be able to testify in person at Kealoha trial

Doctors: Key witness won’t be able to testify in person at Kealoha trial
Former deputy city Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha and her husband, Honolulu's ex-police chief, walk into federal court. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 99-year-old witness who is central to the public corruption trial involving Honolulu’s former police chief and his deputy prosecutor wife will not be able to testify, forcing prosecutors to use a videotaped deposition instead, Hawaii News Now has learned.

Doctors recently told federal prosecutors that Florence Puana, the elderly grandmother of Katherine Kealoha, is not physically able to handle the stress that testifying would cause.

Florence Puana with her son Gerard Puana
Florence Puana with her son Gerard Puana

Puana is considered a key witness against the Kealohas and the three other retired and current Honolulu police officers who are also facing conspiracy charges. Her testimony surrounds the financial feud within the family.

Puana’s statements were recorded on April 29. She testified on video and faced cross examination from the Kealohas’ defense team.

Hawaii Chief U.S. Judge John Michael Seabright will have to rule on any objections, and the recording will have to be edited according to those rulings before the jury can watch the video.

Federal prosecutors intend to argue that the Kealohas set up the theft of their mailbox to frame Florence Puana’s son, Gerard ― Katherine Kealoha’s uncle ― for the crime, in an effort to discredit him in the family’s dispute over money.

The other three defendants are accused of helping to cover up the alleged framing in an effort to help the Kealohas.

Trial for the group could start as soon as Wednesday.

Jury selection in the case continued on Friday, and officials involved in the case are hopeful that the jury will be seated by Tuesday.

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