Trial opens in Chinatown killing

Published: Jun. 18, 2012 at 4:07 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 18, 2012 at 9:18 PM HST
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Zorro Rye
Zorro Rye
Iosefa Pasene
Iosefa Pasene
Joseph Peneueta
Joseph Peneueta

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Prosecutors allege Iosefa Pasene fired an assault rifle and Zorro Rye brandished a shotgun when they chased down Joseph Peneueta and shot him in the back before he collapsed in a crosswalk on Pauahi street in March 2009.

"Pasene, the man with the assault rifle, runs up to the body and he straddles him. And he takes his rifle, he points it down, and he empties the clip," deputy prosecutor Rodney Veary said.

But Pasene's attorney argued that someone else pulled the trigger, not his client.

"Not a single person who now professes to be witnesses in this case told the police that it was Iosefa Pasene that fired the gun that night. Not a single person said that. You know why? The evidence will show it wasn't him," Thomas Otake said.

Peneueta was known on the street as "soljah." Court records show he and the defendants were involved with illegal drugs.

Veary said shortly before the shooting, Peneueta had a run-in with Pasene in a Chinatown convenience store. Pasene and Rye are from San Francisco.

"Pasene says to him, 'Where we come from, we don't fight. We shoot. And when we shoot, we shoot to kill,'" Veary said.

The shooting happened just after 4 a.m.  Rye's attorney, John Schum, said his client was far from Chinatown when the killing took place.

"The fact of the matter is at 4 o'clock, and for the rest of the morning, Mr. Rye is sitting in Pearl City in his residence, in his bedroom," Schum told the jury.

Prosecutors said eyewitness accounts, video surveillance and cell phone tracking will prove their case.

Defense attorneys refute the state's claim that the shooting stemmed from a gang war between Samoan factions in San Francisco and Kuhio Park Terrace.

Otake said witnesses are protecting the real shooter.

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