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Defense argues state did not prove suspect intended to kill in hammer attack

HILO >> The defense attorney for a Hilo man charged with trying to kill a coin dealer with a hammer says the state didn’t prove its case.

In closing arguments Tuesday, William Heflin said defendant Robert Diego has no history of violence, in contrast to the man he’s charged with trying to kill, Donald Nigro.

Diego claims he hit Nigro with a hammer only after Nigro sexually groped him.

Heflin says Nigro, who was convicted of murder in 1971, was more likely to be the aggressor.

Prosecutors contend Diego intended to rob Nigro. Deputy Prosecutor Darien Nagata called Diego’s testimony an outrageous story concocted to explain the June 13, 2011 hammer attack.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports the prosecution Wednesday will have a chance for rebuttal before the case goes to jury.

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