Victim stabbed 15 times in beach attack: ‘I thought I was going to die’
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The victim in a brutal Kahala Beach stabbing took the witness stand Tuesday and identified her attacker, but defense attorneys raised questions about her account.
Melia Kalahiki said she was sunbathing at Kahala Beach on July 8, 2020 when a stranger attacked her from behind and began stabbing her in the neck, shoulder and arms.
“I tried to struggle as soon at it happened. I could not speak. I tried to squeal and no sounds were coming out. I was stabbed a total of 15 times,” she said.
“I was trying to fight throughout most of it but at one point, I honestly gave up because I thought I was going to die.”
Erik Willis, 19, has been charged with second-degree attempted murder in the case. He’s been held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center for nearly two years.
On the stand Tuesday, Kalahiki said she recognized Willis as her attacker from his “eyes, skin tones and his eyebrows.”
The case largely hinges on the credibility of Kalahiki’s testimony since no weapon was found, no one witnessed the attack and there’s no physical evidence that Willis was the attacker.
Attorney Eric Seitz, who represents Willis, said Kalahiki was unable to identify his client or anybody else as her attacker during three separate lineups provided by police three days after the attack.
“The only person who purports to identify Mr. Willis as the attacker is the complainant herself, Ms. Kalahiki. And we submit that her identification is unreliable,” said Seitz.
Seitz also introduced tests showing that when Kalahiki was admitted to the hospital, she tested positive for crystal meth and Valium. She has since denied ever taking those drugs.
Prosecutors allowed the test results to be admitted as evidence, but also tried to raise doubts about the test’s accuracy.
“There should be a confirmatory test absent that then really there is no way to know whether or if it’s a false positive,” said Deputy Prosecutor Lawrence Sousie.
Both sides rested their cases Tuesday. Closing arguments are set for Wednesday.
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