East Hawaii News

Judge Orders Mental Exam for Stabbing Suspect

May 29, 2014, 7:07 PM HST
* Updated May 30, 11:53 AM
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A District Court judge today granted a defense request for a mental evaluation for Varaha Mims, the man accused of the non-fatal stabbings of three people last week in Hilo.

Mims’ public defender, Michael Ebesugawa, requested the examination to determine whether the 28-year-old Mims is mentally fit to proceed with his case.

During today’s preliminary hearing, Judge Barbara Takase scheduled a hearing for the results of the mental evaluation for 1:30 p.m on July 8.

Takase today also granted a motion by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Lee that Mims be held without the option of bail.

Lee told Takase that his request was based on the severity of the crimes for which Mims is charged, and the fact that one carries the possibility of life in prison without parole.

Varaha Mims with his public defender, Michael Ebesugawa, during a preliminary hearing today in Hilo District Court. Photo by Dave Smith.

Varaha Mims with his public defender, Michael Ebesugawa, during a preliminary hearing today in Hilo District Court. Photo by Dave Smith.

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Mims was charged last week with three counts of attempted murder in connection with the stabbings, two of which occurred in front of the Hilo Town Tavern and the third in a home on Ohai Street.

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One of the counts is first-degree attempted murder, which carries the enhanced sentence.

Mims was also charged two counts of assault, criminal property damage, burglary and promoting a detrimental drug.

However, prosecutors have since reassessed the charges and are now pursuing three second-degree attempted murder counts in addition to the one in the first degree which is based on multiple victims.

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Although his bail had been set at $500,000, Lee said he was concerned that Mims’ family might post that amount.

Lee said he is also concerned that Mims might flee if he is released on bail.

He said Mims’ brother in California told police that he is capable of posting bail and is willing to do so.

Lee told the judge that Mims had only been in Hawaii for four months and has no job or place to live. Lee said Mims’ only connection here is a girlfriend, and if Mim was bailed out he could return to California.

“There is nothing to keep him in this jurisdiction,” Lee said. “The community is very much concerned for its safety, and for the safety of walking down the street.”

Police have said that they don’t believe that Mims knew the couple who had just walked across the street before being stabbed in front of the Keawe Street tavern.

According to police, the third victim was previously Mims’ landlord.

Those present in court today included family members of 28-year-old Skylar Nelson of Pahoa, who along with his girlfriend, 27-year-old Sarah Steinbrecher of Hilo, were stabbed in front of the pub.

Jessie Aguilar, Skylar Nelson's sister, outside of court today. Photo by Dave Smith.

Jessie Aguilar, Skylar Nelson’s sister, outside of court today. Photo by Dave Smith.

Skylar Nelson’s sister, Jessie Aguilar, said her brother has undergone five surgeries to repair his injuries, which included a damaged aorta.

The aorta is the body’s largest artery, extending from the heart down into the abdomen.

Their brother, Shane Nelson, acknowledged that quick action by several nurses who had been in the tavern likely saved his life.

Both siblings said Skylar, a construction worker, remains in The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu in critical condition.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Shane Nelson said, “but he’s breathing today.”

The two were accompanied to court by more than a dozen friends and family.

Shane Nelson’s wife, Tiara Funes, said an effort was underway to raise funds to help pay for Skylar’s medical expenses, which she said could reach seven figures. To donate, visit http://www.gofundme.com/9ibl1o?forcedesktop=1 (note: not all browsers are compatible).

Mims’ girlfriend was also present during the hearing.

The woman, who did not give her name, told a sheriff’s deputy afterwards that she was concerned that video footage she said was taken of her by one of the Nelson family’s friends or by a news videographer might result in an act of vengeance.

“I’m afraid they might beat me up,” she said.

***Updated Friday, May 30 with contact information for donations for Skylar Nelson’s medical expenses and to clarify the charges against Mims.***

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