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Gibson Started Altercation, Wife of Stabbing Victim Says

Posted May 14, 2014, 06:52 PM HST Updated May 15, 2014, 10:59 AM HST
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Paul Michael Gibson, left, sits next to attorney Michael Zola during today's preliminary hearing in Hilo District Court. Photo by Dave Smith.

The wife of a man stabbed Saturday at a Hilo beach park testified today that her husband’s assailant was the aggressor in the incident.

The testimony came during a preliminary hearing for Paul Michael Gibson, who has been charged with attempted murder and 10 other offenses in connection with Saturday’s incident at the James Kealoha Beach Park, an area also known as 4-mile.

Police affidavits allege that Gibson stabbed David Coombs, 41, seven times with a 6-inch knife and also threatened both Coombs and his wife with a handgun.

Gibson’s attorney, Michael Zola, has said his client was acting in self-defense.

District Court Judge Barbara Takase stopped today’s proceedings a little after 4 p.m. today, following questioning of Alicia Coombs by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kimberly Angay.

The hearing will resume at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 22, with cross-examination by Zola.

Mrs. Coombs testified today that on Saturday afternoon Gibson, a 46-year-old Ocean View resident, twice challenged her husband.

Mrs. Coombs told Angay that the first instance occurred when she and her husband rode up to the beach park on his motorcycle to attend a funeral party for her uncle who had died of cancer.

She said Gibson approached them, and told them to “get the f— out of here.”

They returned later that afternoon in her husband’s truck, delivered some money – often referred to in Hawaii as koden – to the family and then drove further down Keakaha Road and parked.

She said on their way down the road they passed Gibson, who stepped into the roadway with his hand reaching into his vest.

Coombs said she and her husband had been sitting in the truck for about an hour when Gibson and another man rode up on their motorcycles and stopped.

References to motorcycle clubs were made several times during today’s court hearing.

Asked by Angay what clothes Gibson was wearing, Coombs testified that they included a vest that had both the number “81” on it as well as the word “prospect,” which she said signified someone who is in the process of being inducted into a motorcycle club.

She said she believed the number 81 referred to the Hells Angels motorcycle club.

(According to lore, that stems from the fact that “H” is the eighth letter in the alphabet and “A” the first.)

Coombs said her husband had previously been a member of a motorcycle club on the mainland but had “retired” from it four years ago.

She did not say which club, and said her husband was not wearing any club insignia that day.

She said Gibson got off his motorcycle and stepped up to the truck, telling David Coombs “I will f—— kill you.”

Coombs said she got out of the truck and stepped between Gibson and her husband, and asked Gibson to take off his motorcycle helmet, which he did, and asked him to leave her husband alone.

She said Gibson then grabbed her by the arms and threw her to the ground.

At Angay’s request, Coombs showed the court large bruises she said Gibson’s action had caused on her upper arms.

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Gibson then started punching her husband and the two traded blows for about a minute, she said.

They ended up grappling on the ground, with Mr. Coombs on top, she said.

Mrs. Coombs testified she then saw that Gibson was stabbing her husband with a knife.

Coombs said she grabbed Gibson’s hand holding the knife in an attempt to stop him, resulting in a small cut on her forearm.

At that point, Coombs said, Gibson pulled a black handgun out of his vest and pointed it at her.

David Coombs then placed a choke hold on Gibson, and proceeded to “choke him out,” she said.

The two men began talking, with Gibson saying that “he had enough,” she said.

Coombs said her husband responded by telling Gibson he would release him if Gibson dropped the weapon.

She said Gibson did drop the pistol, and Mr. Coombs let him go. Gibson picked up the gun, placed it in his pocket and got on his motorcycle and rode off in the direction of Hilo.

Coombs said she then helped her husband — who she said had multiple stab wounds with “blood gushing out” — into the truck and began driving him to the hospital.

As they reached Puhi Bay, they encountered an oncoming ambulance, so she stopped in the road to flag it down, and paramedics took her husband to Hilo Medical Center.

Coombs said she soon saw Gibson “flying by” on his motorcycle, although his fellow rider apparently stayed with the traffic building up behind the truck.

Police in pursuit of Gibson soon arrested him at the intersection of Laukapu and Lanikaula streets.

She said while still near Puhi Bay, a local couple she didn’t know came up to her and said they had observed Gibson and the other rider “come out of the bushes” on Andrade Street, near Onekehakeha Beach Park.

Coombs said she asked the couple to show her the location, which they did. She said while she was there, police officers arrived and eventually took her to the police station.

She said an officer later showed her a black pistol, which she identified as the weapon Gibson had used to threaten her.

In an affidavit filed with the court, police said they had found the pistol 46 feet off Andrade Street.

Coombs told Angay that her husband has since been released from the hospital.

At the conclusion of today’s hearing, Angay asked the judge to order Gibson to stay away from the Coombs if he is released on bail, which has been set at $374,000.

She also asked that Takase issue a similar no-contact order for members of Gibson’s “club.”

Takase then told Gibson that the no-contact order also applied to any “third party,” other than his attorney or investigators his attorney might hire.

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