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Bail revoked for Big Island murder suspect

  • COURTESY: HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENTAuthorities chargedHoward Philip Zimmerman with second-degree murder, kidnapping, first-degree terroristic threatening and second-degree criminal property damage in the death of Susan Brockert of Bellevue, Wash. at a Kohala resort.
    COURTESY: HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
    Authorities chargedHoward Philip Zimmerman with second-degree murder, kidnapping, first-degree terroristic threatening and second-degree criminal property damage in the death of Susan Brockert of Bellevue, Wash. at a Kohala resort.

WAIMEA, Hawaii » A Washington state woman killed at a Big Island resort last month was hit in the head with a large piece of granite tile from the room’s coffee table, a housekeeping worker testified Tuesday.

The preliminary hearing for Philip Howard Zimmerman, 46, of Bellevue, Wash., began in district court Tuesday where resort employees identified him as the man they saw when they rushed to a fifth-floor room where guests reported hearing screaming May 23.

"I heard a woman screaming ‘help, help’ and a lot of banging noises," testified Ernest Valenzuela, who works in the resort’s housekeeping department.

He climbed onto the room’s balcony from an adjoining room and saw the woman through the sliding glass door lying in the hallway. He said he saw her being hit in the head with a 2-foot-long piece of granite tile he recognized from coffee tables in the rooms.

Zimmerman, also known as Howard Philip Zimmerman, is being held without bail after the judge rescinded bail previously set at $2 million. He is charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping, and second-degree criminal property damage. He had also been charged with terroristic threatening, but that charge was dropped.

An autopsy on Susan Brockert, 44, also of Bellevue, showed she died from multiple blunt force and sharp force trauma to her head and neck, Hawaii County police said.

Zimmerman and Brockert were staying together at The Fairmont Orchid at Mauna Lani Resort.

Resort security supervisor John Overbeck testified Tuesday he couldn’t find Brockert’s pulse after workers kicked the door open. He said he saw Brockert lying in a bathrobe and Zimmerman was wearing only underwear.

He said he blocked the door to prevent Zimmerman from leaving and harming others.

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