HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A federal judge has approved the Kealohas’ request to waive their right to a jury trial in an upcoming case on alleged financial crimes.
The decision means that federal Judge J. Michael Seabright will listen to the facts in the couple’s second criminal trial and decide whether they’re guilty or not.
Former Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his ex-deputy prosecutor wife, Katherine, were convicted by a jury in June of conspiracy and obstruction for setting up a relative they were feuding with. They framed him for the theft of their mailbox because he was about to expose them for stealing from other relatives.
The Kealohas are slated to be sentenced in that case later this month.
Their second trial revolves around alleged financial crimes.
Katherine Kealoha also faces a third trial for drug charges.
Both Kealohas were in court Wednesday for the judge’s decision.
It’s widely known that they are negotiating with federal prosecutors for a plea deal.
One of Katherine’s attorneys, Earle Partington, says she wants her husband dropped from the financial case so he will be out of prison sooner for their adult daughter.
Because a plea deal hasn’t happened yet, Legal expert Ken Lawson of the University of Hawaii Law School, says a bench trial could be an alternative, by allowing Katherine to try and take sole responsibility for the alleged crimes.
Lawson says if that is the case, waiving a jury trial is a good move for Katherine but a bad move for Louis.
“A jury could have had sympathy for Louis,” Lawson says, “You’ve got to convince all 12 guilty or not guilty right, if one person says not guilty they can stop a conviction. And so you got more of a chance.”
Katherine Kealoha, who is behind bars as she awaits sentencing, was in a white Federal Detention Center jumpsuit.
Louis Kealoha left the courthouse after the decision without making a comment. He did appear to be in good spirits, though, smiling and waving to reporters as he walked to his car.