Katherine Kealoha adds new attorney mid-trial as prosecution rests its case

Updated: Jun. 18, 2019 at 7:53 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - After 58 witnesses, the government rested its case Monday morning in the public corruption trial against the Kealohas and three police officers.

Defense attorneys now have their opportunity to pick apart the evidence presented.

But even before they called in their own witnesses Monday, attorneys for the five co-defendants moved to throw out the case entirely, arguing the government had not proven a conspiracy had taken place that involved all the defendants, rather several small conspiracies happened.

The move was an unsurprising one ― given that the case relies on circumstantial evidence ― and it was quickly quashed by the Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright.

[Read more: ‘The Mailbox Trial’: Public corruption case of unprecedented scope in Hawaii gets underway]

The prosecution rested its case after a week-long break in the case.

And things started off with a bang Monday morning after news broke that Katherine Kealoha had brought on another attorney, mid-trial to assist her publicly-funded one.

That other attorney ― Earle Partington ― is a long time attorney who has had success, especially with cases in appellate court.

Partington does have have a controversial past though he was suspended from the Hawaii bar for 30 days in 2011, for leaving out material facts in a brief and Navy JAG suspended him for life as a result.

Partington confirmed what sources told Hawaii News Now, that Katherine Kealoha’s family is paying him, and that he was retained Saturday.

He declined to offer any other details.

The so-called “mailbox trial” against the Kealohas and three officers revolves around the theft of the former power couple’s mailbox.

Prosecutors allege the Kealohas conspired to frame a relative for theft in a bid to discredit him during a family dispute over money.

HNN legal analyst Ken Lawson said defense attorneys have their work cut out for them.

Prosecutors, he said, were “able to show motive. Now the biggest challenge for the government (is) making that closing argument.”

Lawson did say though, that less is more in cases built on circumstantial evidence, “Prove it. Prove me guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,"

The attorneys for Louis Kealoha and Bobby Nguyen rested without their clients taking the stand.

Kagiwada then started presenting her case.

She called Gerard Puana back to the stand. The alleged victim in a bizarre exchange over an email.

The email, which Kagiwada claimed was between Puana and her client appeared to be about bail money from 2011, over an insurance issue, but the government objected saying they question the authenticity of the email.

Puana, on the stand, testified that he didn’t remember ever seeing it before.

Kagiwada will continue Tuesday morning but would not indicate if her client, the main defendant, will take the stand.

Derek Hahn’s attorney is expected to present his case Wednesday. Birney Bervar also told the court, his client does not expect to testify.

Gordon Shiraishi’s attorney has not said either way if Shiraishi will take the stand when he takes the floor.

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