Judge Kim Grants No Bail for Murder Suspect After Nearly 2 Hours of Testimony
The arraignment and plea hearing of a Captain Cook man accused of second-degree murder and arson lasted nearly two hours as the state argued for its motion of no bail.
A wheelchair-bound Ioane Asagra appeared before 3rd Circuit Court Judge Robert DS Kim at the Kona courthouse Wednesday, June 30, and entered a plea of not guilty on the charges of second-degree murder and first-degree arson, then demanded a jury trial.
That trial has been scheduled for Oct. 19, 2021.
Kim also granted the Hawai‘i Office of the Prosecuting Attorney’s motion for no bail. Asagra was retroactively denied bail and remanded back into custody after Wednesday’s hearing. He had posted $550,000 bail and walked free two days prior. His relatives posted a bond to secure that release on Monday, June 28.
Asagra, 27, is currently facing robbery charges in two separate felony cases. He was out on more than half a million dollars bail connected to those incidents when the murder investigation began several weeks ago. The shooting death of victim Joey Richmond occurred on May 25, 2021.
Hawai‘i Police found Richmond’s body at the end of Keauhou Kainaliu Road, also known as the End of the World. Police say he was shot multiple times. The next day, the victim’s vehicle, a white BMW, was found torched at the bottom of a cliff side in South Kona.
The defense called three witnesses to argue Asagra would comply with the conditions of bail. The first witness was retired HPD detective Walter Ah Mow. Appearing by Zoom, the former detective told the court he is currently working as a private investigator and has begun looking into the facts of Asagra’s case.
Ah Mow testified he met with Asagra for the first time on Monday after he was released from Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center. He observed his injuries at that time and testified that the defendant was unable to walk.
“Based on my interview, there’s definitely more follow up I need to do based on his statement to me,” Ah Mow said.
Ah Mow told the court he is confident Asagra will comply with the conditions of bail, adding that the 27-year-old will be taking a polygraph test.
Ah Mow testified Asagra’s aunt and mother are solid citizens in the community, adding bail was posted by Asagra’s family as well as a local business. They posted a bond, which only required 10% of the total bail amount.
“I have reviewed discovery in the case provided by the state — I need to review more discovery, which I assume will be turned over,” Ah Mow said.
The defense also called Asagra’s aunt, Joyce K. Crisafi and his mother, Kanani Crisafi.
Joyce Crisafi assured the court that she’s committed to making sure her nephew attends not just his court hearings but that he will meet his medical obligations.
Kanani Crisafi told the court about Asagra’s injuries. She testified her son suffered third-degree burns on 20% of his body, from his knee caps to his ankles, with the right leg needing a skin graft.
“He’s supposed to go back (to O‘ahu) to be evaluated to see if the skin graft is healing,” Kanani Crisafi informed the court.
During cross-examination, Kanani Crisafi testified Asagra has been living with her while he’s been on probation for a felony drug case.
“If he’s not in custody or jail, he’s with me,” Kanani Crisafi said.
As the state had to prove the likelihood of conviction to win its motion, Deputy Prosecutor Chase Murray called two Hawai‘i Police Department detectives and an officer to the stand, the first being Detective Donovan Kohara.
Murray questioned Kohara about the night authorities found the victim’s body. Evidence at the scene led Kohara to the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay, where the victim and a friend were registered to a room.
Kohara testified that investigators pulled surveillance from the front of the hotel that showed Asagra arriving in a red Toyota SUV and being dropped off the evening of May 25. He returned to the entrance shortly after with Richmond, based on video evidence. The pair then drove away in the victim’s white BMW.
Kohara testified further that officers responded to a car fire in Honaunau the following day, which was later identified as Richmond’s vehicle. The detective also told the court he later learned Asagra was at Kona Community Hospital being treated for burns.
During cross-examination, Kohara confirmed investigators learned Richmond was a drug dealer. It was also indicated that Richmond had received a large amount of methamphetamine before he died. However, the detective said that information was not verified.
After Kohara stepped down, Kim reminded Murray and Reece the hearing was not a trial. They were there to determine whether or not the no bail motion should be granted based on three categories: risk of flight, danger to the community or propensity to engage in illegal activity.
“I’m not going to allow this to be a discovery vehicle for either prosecution or defense,” the judge said.
The state also called Asagra’s probation officer, Nannette Napalapalia, who has been his supervisor since October 2017. Asagra has been on probation since pleading guilty to felony drug offenses.
Napalapalia testified that Asagra has violated his probation in the past, including not reporting to her when required by the court to do so.
“I don’t think he’s supervisable in the community,” she stated.
Citing Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, Murray argued for no bail on the basis there is a risk Asagra will flee, that he poses a danger to a person or the community, and/or that he will engage in illegal activity.
“We established he is on bail for violence against a person,” Murray stated. “The testimony of (the defense’s) witnesses don’t show condition that he’d come to court, the community wouldn’t be at risk or that he’d commit another crime.”
Defense Counsel William Reece argued the purpose of bail is to ensure the defendant appears in court and to protect the community.
“The court does have the power to put him on electronic monitoring at his expense,” Reece said. “This isn’t a trifling bond. There’s simply too much at stake. The time to flee would’ve been last night.”
Reece also stated his client is facing myriad medical problems.
“HCCC can’t even keep COVID out of the jail, let alone treat someone at risk for infection,” Reece said, referring to the latest coronavirus outbreak at the facility.
Considering all factors and testimony given, Kim stated the court found there is no condition that will reasonably assure the safety of the community, or that Asagra would not flee or reoffend.
Asagra was taken into custody immediately after the hearing and was transported back to HCCC. Reece asked the court if his client might be allowed to return to the Straub Burn Center in Honolulu on Thursday, July 1, for treatment of third-degree burns potentially suffered in connection to this case.
Kim denied the request.
Asagra was arrested on June 16 on an outstanding warrant as well as on charges in connection to Richmond’s death. Police took him into custody at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport after Asagra returned from O‘ahu where he had received treatment at Straub Burn Center.
Asagra was charged in District Court with second-degree murder and first-degree arson in connection to the death of Richmond. He was indicted in the case on June 24.
Asagra is facing life in prison with the possibility of parole in the murder case. However, according to the indictment, the prosecutor’s office alleges Asagra is subject to extended terms of imprisonment due to the fact he is a “persistent offender” and has already been convicted on two felonies.
If the court grants the prosecutor’s terms, it would take away the possibility of parole should a jury render a guilty verdict.