Man sentenced in ‘vicious,’ unprovoked attack on teenager sunbathing at Kahala beach

Defense attorneys have pledged to appeal.
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 11:25 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 14, 2022 at 6:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An East Oahu man convicted of brutally stabbing a teenage girl at Kahala Beach in 2020 learned his fate Thursday.

Erik Willis was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole, the mandatory penalty for attempted murder.

“This case is very sad. Certainly the victim was harmed. She suffered horrendous injuries but the effort to try and identify and convict the right person I think was dismal,” said lawyer Eric Seitz, shortly after his client was sentenced.

In April, Willis was convicted of repeatedly stabbing Melia Kalahiki. The random attack happened two years ago while she was laying out at Kahala Beach.

At the time, the victim was just 17 years old.

City Prosecutor Steve Alm said the sentence “ensures that the public will be protected from Willis’ violent and dangerous conduct for years to come.”

It’s a statement Seitz disputes.

“I think no one should have confidence that the person who did the stabbing is behind bars,” he said.

Seitz believes his client should have never been convicted.

Although video shows the 20-year-old in the area around the time of the attack, he says no one who witnessed the stabbing was able to identify him as the perpetrator.

“They were all shown pictures of Erik Willis. None of them could identify him as the person who did it,” said Seitz.

There’s also no DNA evidence.

Seitz added, “There’s no blood evidence. No fingerprints. No weapon was ever found at all.

“All that was basically shown that connected Erik Willis to this crime was the very belated six months later after the fact identification of him by the victim "

Willis asked the judge Thursday if he would consider putting him in some kind of program instead of sending him to prison.

For now, Seitz says he expects Willis will have to serve 20 years before he’s eligible for parole.

That decision will be made official by the parole board in the next few months.

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