Three Sentenced in Brutal Hotel Security Guard Attack

September 14, 2019, 10:49 AM HST (Updated September 14, 2019, 10:49 AM)
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News sources report that three individuals were sentenced on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, for their role in the vicious beating of a hotel security guard.

Just after midnight on Sept. 17, 2018, a hotel security guard responding to a loud noise complaint made contact with the occupants—two men and two women—of a vehicle in the Kona Seaside Hotel parking lot. Three of the four occupants of the vehicle engaged in a verbal confrontation physically assaulted the guard, John Kanui, who was seated in the hotel’s security golf cart, pulling him from the vehicle onto the pavement.

Hotel video surveillance of the incident shows the three attackers alternated punching and kicking the 63-year-old security guard—even after it appeared he was unconscious.

Kona patrol officers responding to the scene located and arrested all four individuals, identified as Wesley Samoa, Natisha Tautalatasi, Lama Lauvao and Mahealani Kanehailua.

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On, Sept. 18, Samoa, Tautalatasi and Lauvao were charged with attempted murder; bail was set at $250,000 each.

On Sept. 13, Circuit Court Judge Melvin Fujino sentenced Samoa and Tautalatasi to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Lauvao was sentenced to 10 years incarceration.

Kanehailua was indicted in November by a Big Island grand jury on charges of attempted first-degree hindering prosecution in connection with the September incident. She was acquitted of the charge following a bench trial in May before Fujino.

Due to the severity of his injuries, Kanui was medevaced to Queen Medical Center in critical condition. He suffered a cervical spine fracture. He was later moved to a mainland hospital for further treatment. Kanui, who served 20 years with the Hawaii National Guard, is paralyzed and now resides in a 24-hour care facility on the mainland.

In an emotional courtroom display, Samoa offered an apology to the Kanui family. Samoa’s mother got down on her hands and knees begged the court for leniency for her son, according to a report by West Hawaii Today.

Tautalatasi also apologized to the Kanui family and asked for mercy for herself, Lavao and Samoa.

Lauvao also apologized to the Kanui family and took full responsibility for his actions.

Jennifer Farrell, Kanui’s daughter, said she thought the sentences were fair.

Before sentencing her, Judge Fujino said that Tautalatasi was the worst one in the beating, noting that Kanui was on the ground and she just kept on beating him.

Judge Fujino noted all of the letters of support he received on Samoa’s behalf but was bound to sentence him to life because of the conviction.

The court noted that Samoa, Tautalatasi and Lavao all contributed to Kanui’s injuries, all three were intoxicated and all three have a history in the criminal justice system.

Within six months, the Hawai‘i Paroling Authority will set the actual minimum term that Samoa, Tautalatasi and Lavao will have to serve before becoming eligible for parole.

 

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