UPDATE: Matsumoto Appears in Court; Faces Life Without Parole
by Dave Smith
***Updated at 4 p.m.***
Sean Matsumoto made his initial appearance in court today after being charged with murder Wednesday night.
District Court Judge Harry Freitas scheduled Matsumoto for a preliminary hearing at 2 p.m. on Feb. 19.
Freitas granted a request from Deputy Prosecutor Darien Nagata to continue Matsumoto’s no-bail status.
Nagata said that Matsumoto should be considered a flight risk because the offenses he has been charged with include first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Posted at 8:55 a.m.:
Police on Wednesday night charged a 34-year-old man with the murder of his girlfriend and her mother.
Sean Ivan Masa Matsumoto was charged at 6:30 p.m. with first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and first-degree reckless endangering.
Matsumoto, a Hilo resident, was being held without bail at the Hilo cellblock pending his initial court appearance today.
Police last night identified the victims as Rhonda Lynn Alohalani Ahu, 45, and her mother, Elaine Ahu, 74.
Both lived at 612 Leilani St., where police went late Monday night after receiving reports of gunshots.
Officers responding at 11:20 p.m. found the two women with fatal wounds.
Matsumoto was arrested at the scene.
Two children at the house were uninjured and are being cared for by other family members.
Court records indicate that Matsumoto has a previous arrest for abuse of a family or household member.
In October 2006, he was arrested for failing to obey a police order to leave the home of the abuse victim, who was not named in the records.
He pleaded no contest to the charge on Feb. 2, 2007, and was sentenced to two days in jail and two years of probation.
At the sentencing he told the judge that he had reconciled with his girlfriend, who had given birth to his baby six days earlier, and was taking cooking classes, court documents said.
Matsumoto was arrested again in February 2008 for failing to attend a domestic violence treatment program. That was a violation of the terms of his probation for which prosecutors sought to have him re-sentenced.
At that time Rhonda Ahu paid $1,000 to bail him out of jail, the documents said.
Seven months later, Matsumoto was deemed to be in compliance with his probation.