Homicide detective who helped investigate Kealoha mailbox theft asked ‘Why us?’
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A homicide detective who investigated the theft of the Kealohas’ mailbox was among six witnesses who took the stand Thursday in the second day of a public corruption trial against Honolulu’s ex-police chief, his wife and three officers.
Dru Akagi was in the Honolulu Police Department’s Homicide Division in 2013, and was assigned to investigate the Kealohas’ reported mailbox theft ― a crime prosecutors allege the defendants engineered in order to frame Katherine Kealoha’s uncle with a felony.
The reported mailbox theft came as Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, and his octogenarian mother were pursuing a civil suit against over the money that Kealoha is alleged to have taken from them.
On the stand, Akagi told the jury that he believed it was a conflict for homicide detectives to investigate the theft because it involved the police chief and his wife, a city deputy prosecutor.
He recalled asking the other homicide detective who was assigned to the case: “Why us?”
Akagi also said detectives moved forward despite not being able to identify the suspect from the Kealohas’ surveillance video ― but only because Katherine Kealoha identified her uncle as the thief.
In cross examination, defense attorneys for the three officers in the case worked again to distance themselves from the Kealohas, getting the witness to admit that in any criminal case officers would be passing on relevant information. That line of questioning made it seem like orders came from above.
In the so-called “mailbox trial,” Louis and Katherine Kealoha are accused of commanding specialized police units to enforce their personal agenda and seek retribution against those who challenged them.
The couple and the officers are charged as a group with conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an official proceeding, and lying to a federal officer.
Also on Thursday, police officers took the witness stand to describe how they came up with the estimated value for the stolen mailbox. The detail is an important one because prosecutors allege the Kealohas artificially inflated the cost of the mailbox so that Puana would be charged with a felony.
Defense attorneys for the Kealohas have argued the government’s case is based on circumstantial evidence. In opening statements Wednesday, they also sought to portray the couple as public servants who were simply caught up in a family feud and were acting on the information they had.
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