Judge throws out murder charge in brutal stabbing death trial

Judge throws out murder charge during trial, defendant walks free, victim's family left grieving
Updated: Sep. 8, 2017 at 8:01 PM HST
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Vainuupo Tosoga (image: Hawaii News Now)
Vainuupo Tosoga (image: Hawaii News Now)

KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man charged in a brutal stabbing death is free after a judge threw out his murder charge in the middle of trial.

The family of the 20-year-old victim, who suffered from mental illness, was upset and confused by the judge's decision.

"Who's the one to kill my son?" asked the victim's mom Ernesta Oliveros.

Ernesta has waited four years for justice, only to see the man charged in her son's death, Vainuupo Tosoga, escape a murder conviction.

"They lie to the court. They have bad karma," Oliveros said.

Investigators said Oliveros, who was schizophrenic, was found with multiple stab wounds in Kalihi in 2013.

Witnesses testified several men were beating him.

Prosecutors rested their case to the jury on Thursday and even before the defense could present their case, Judge Karen Nakasone ruled there wasn't enough evidence to prove Tosoga delivered the fatal blow. She threw out the murder charge which law experts said is extremely rare.

"They should never have the judge rule in the middle of trial that they don't have a case. They had this case for four years and they just get told now they don't have a case, they should have seen that before. So it's a serious error on the prosecutor's side…it's basically a slap in the face on the Prosecutor's Office," said criminal defense attorney Victor Bakke.

Nakasone said the jury could still decide whether Tosoga was guilty of misdemeanor assault.

Tosoga's attorney Eddie Aquino argued the victim was also responsible for what happened after he challenged the men to a fight.

"Find him for what he's responsible for. Find him guilty of assault on the third degree and find that this was entered into by mutual consent. That's what we're asking. That is the just verdict in this case," Aquino said.

Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Tashima said the beating went far beyond a mutual fight.

"She heard a voice saying, 'Sorry, sorry, sorry.' That's where consent ends. You are now being targeted two on one, someone holding a stick, someone kicking and punching you. There's no consent anymore," Tashima said.

The jury disagreed with Teshima and convicted Tosoga of a petty misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of thirty days, and because Tosoga had already spent more than a year in jail, he walked out of the courthouse Friday afternoon a free man.

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