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Slain man's brother admits to firing first

Leon Botelho testifies that he fired a single warning shot from a rifle when confronted by a rival now accused of gunning down his brother Joel

By Nelson Daranciang

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 08:24 a.m. HST, Jan 11, 2011


Former Castle High School star quarterback Joel Botelho's younger brother admitted to firing the first shot during a confrontation that resulted in the death of his brother outside the family's Kaneohe home last week.

Leon "Bubba" Botelho, 21, testified yesterday in the preliminary hearing of his brother's accused killer, Makuola K. Collins.

District Judge Faye Koyanagi ordered Collins to stand trial in Circuit Court for murder, attempted murder and firearm charges in the Jan. 2 shooting death of 27-year-old Joel Botelho.

Collins, 26, remains in custody, unable to post $750,000 bail.

His lawyer, David Hayakawa, said he looks forward to the trial. "The deceased's brother started a fight in a bar. That fight then continued at their household, where he was prepared with a rifle, and then he shot first," he said, noting that Bubba Botelho is the only one to identify Collins as the shooter.

Hayakawa said Bubba Botelho then lied to police about having the rifle during the confrontation.

Bubba Botelho said he lied because he had just seen his brother killed, and he did not want his parents "to lose both their sons."

Joel Botelho died from internal bleeding and injuries to his heart and liver from a gunshot that entered his chest, said Dr. Kanthi De Alwis, medical examiner.

Botelho testified the conflict was between him and Collins.

Koyanagi admonished Botelho's and Collins' relatives and friends to refrain from outbursts. But as state sheriff deputies escorted him off the witness stand, Botelho shouted at Collins that his beef is with him, not his dead brother.

Collins had accused him of fooling around with his girlfriend, Botelho said.

He added that police arrested him because witnesses to the confrontation accused him of having a gun. Botelho denied having a gun and he was not charged.

He said he had suspicions about Collins and questioned the mother of his child about her "cruising" with Collins six or seven months ago.

Botelho said he was trying to make peace with Collins at Club Komomai in Kaneohe Shopping Center on Jan. 2, but Collins kept suggesting they take their discussion outside. So he said he punched Collins "one, maybe two times."

He said bar patrons broke up the fight, and both men left the bar voluntarily. On the way home, he said, he saw Collins and his friends mobilizing at Collins' home. So when he and his brother arrived at their parents' home, he retrieved a rifle he had buried on the property. He said he had never fired the rifle before.

"I had one bullet to defend my home to defend my family," Botelho said, noting Collins and his friends arrived at his family's home in three cars. Botelho said he approached the group to tell them to leave.

He said his older brother was still in his vehicle.

He said he fired his one bullet into the ground when he saw someone trying to sneak up behind him. Then he said he heard a shot fired from Collins' direction. When he turned, he said, he saw Collins fire another shot toward his brother, then a third shot toward him. After Collins and the others had left, Botelho said he found his brother unconscious near a neighbor's doorway.






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