Katherine Kealoha won’t be taking the witness stand to testify against her brother after all
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Katherine Kealoha will not be called to testify against her brother in a federal drug trial, despite being transferred back to Hawaii from a prison in California to take the stand.
Kealoha was by far the most anticipated witness in the drug trial against Dr. Rudy Puana, and experts were surprised that prosecutors apparently decided at the last minute to forgo her testimony.
The disgraced former city prosecutor and mastermind of one of Hawaii’s largest public corruption scandals is serving a 13-year sentence for conspiracy, obstruction and bank fraud.
Kealoha was charged with her brother in the drug case, but pleaded guilty to a count of “misprision of a felony” for not reporting her brother’s alleged drug trafficking.
On day six of Puana’s trial Tuesday, assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat told the court that Dr. Gregory Polston, an expert in pain management, would be the last witness for the government.
Kealoha had been flown from FCI Victorville, a federal medium security prison in California, back to Honolulu weeks ago ahead of the trial starting.
“Transferring an inmate during these COVID times is very difficult to do and it’s a very big deal,” said attorney Megan Kau.
“In my opinion, the government did intend to call her as a witness but something happened.”
There could be several reasons why she was not called.
“There may have been a cumulative objection,” Kau said, explaining that the court doesn’t want to hear from a witness that’s going to repeat what another witness already testified to.
Several witnesses have already provided testimony that Puana and Kealoha were snorting cocaine and committing other alleged crimes together.
Another possible reason Kealoha wasn’t called: She may not be as cooperative against her own brother as originally thought.
“If she changed her mind and decided that she was not going to remember things,” Kau said.
Kealoha could strategically be called later, after the defense presents their case to refute evidence or testimony.
Polston returns Wednesday to the stand ahead of the government resting its case. The defense is expected to begin presenting after that.
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