HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A judge ruled Tuesday that the state will have a second chance at prosecuting the man who fatally shot a neighbor trying to enter his West Oahu home by mistake.
John Hasselbrink, 41, was killed after a night out drinking in April 2018.
Authorities initially charged his neighbor, Gregory Farr, with manslaughter and firearm violations.
The criminal charges, however, were dismissed earlier this month when the judge ruled that several delays violated Farr’s right to a speedy trial.
The judge on Tuesday decided they would be dismissed without prejudice, which gives the state another opportunity.
“Obviously, we’re very pleased with the judge dismissing without prejudice, although we’re kind of disappointed she initially dismissed the charge,” said deputy prosecutor Wayne Tashima. “But it gives us the opportunity to consider refiling the charges against the defendant.”
Hasselbrink served on a submarine and several of his Navy colleagues showed up in court.
“(I’m) very satisfied with the judge’s remarks and glad we can follow through with this case, and hopefully it happens in a timely manner now and we can move forward with this and get some closure for the family,” said Jack White, Hasselbrink’s supervisor.
Farr’s girlfriend, who was in the courtroom, burst into tears after the judge’s decision.
“There’s no criminals here. Nobody here is a bad person, so jail is not the solution,” said Marcus Landsberg, Farr’s attorney. “We’re just looking for something where everybody can come together and we can understand what went wrong.”
More than a year after the chief petty officer’s death, Hasselbrink’s parents and sister are still struggling to cope with the loss.
“We’re trying our best. Each day is different. Some days are better than others,” said Hasselbrink’s sister, Pamela Kellermann.
Kellermann said an Uber driver dropped her brother off in his Ewa Beach neighborhood, where the townhomes look the same.
According to her, he usually left his door unlocked for a friend who sometimes crashed on the couch.
In court documents, Landsberg said the Farr family was in terror when a stranger tried to force open their door before 4 a.m.
Farr, whose ankle was in a cast, called out to the intruder but got no response, his attorney said.
So he grabbed his gun, told his girlfriend to call police, and fired a shot when he heard another bang at the door and realized his daughter was near the entrance, the defense attorney said.
“There’s not a winner on either side at this point, obviously the Hasselbrinks and Mr Farr’s side as well. It’s a tragic incident, but one that needs to be heard,” said Juan Gonzalez, a friend of Hasselbrink.
Prosecutors insisted Farr acted recklessly, but his attorney claimed it was self-defense.
“It’s very unusual for a homicide to get dismissed. You can see other cases get dismissed, but for a homicide to get dismissed, a manslaughter or murder to get dismissed for reaching that period of time, is unusual,” said Ken Lawson, a faculty member at the University of Hawaii law school.
Hasselbrink’s family doesn’t believe the shooting was self-defense.
They say they want Farr to face the consequences of his actions.
“Whatever the jury decides, we can understand that, we can take that, but for it to be dismissed on a technicality because the clock was ticking and it ran out, that’s horrible,” said Kellermann.